Tales from the White Hart (Arthur C Clarke)

It’s been a great Christmas for reading. My brother does a fair amount of reading too and for Christmas he gave me two books. The first to be read is “Tales from the White Hart” by Arthur C Clarke. It’s a collection of short stories told in a regular pub meeting of scientists, writers and publishers. The pub is called the “White Hart” and the stories are all originally told by a character called Harry Purvis. They are re-told and narrated by one of the regulars, whose name I forget as it played little significance in the stories.

One of the stories I’d read in a previous collection, the others were all new, all imaginative and all believable to a point. That’s what I like most about science fiction – the extension of real proven scientific theories into nonsense… or at least what might be nonsense but close enough to possible there might be some truth.

Not all the stories are pure science fiction, some are clever plays on expectation and situation. Without wanting to give away too much, one story centers on scientists working at a weapons research station. Drinking in their local pub, the locals were always naturally cautious about exactly what weapons were being developed (especially remember, this is the 1950’s when the atomic bomb was at the forefront of everyone’s mind). When a lorry comes from the direction of their works towards the pub and crashes in view (though a mile or two away) everyone fears the worst. The locals decide the lorry has come from the works and the speed at which the driver ran away from his overturned lorry suggests they should all be doing the same thing. The scientists are also thinking the same thing. One decides to walk the mile and find precisely what disaster they conspired in releasing in the countryside… it’s not what would seem apparent.

That reminds me of one of my favourite short stories that Arthur C Clarke wrote called “Neutron Tide”. You can read it on this website – it’s less than 5 minutes to read.

Anyway, what Rootie Rating to give Tales from the White Hart? 4 out of 5 – there are some real gems in this book.