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Way Station Hardcover – May 1980

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bentley Pub (May 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0837604400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837604404
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,482,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Clifford Simak was raised in Wisconsin, and his science fiction combines galactic scope with nostalgia for the old American Midwest. Way Station (1963) is a fine example of this unlikely mix, and probably his best novel--it won him a Hugo award.

Its hero Enoch Wallace first appears as a mystery man: an impossibly young-looking Civil War veteran, 124 years old and still living in his parents' remote Winconsin farmhouse. Nowadays this building has a glittering, Tardis-like interior, ever since Wallace was recruited by aliens as stationmaster on a minor branch line--not a railway, but Galactic Central's network of matter transmitters carrying passengers between the stars. Earth isn't ready for this secret, and countryman Wallace's best friends are extraterrestrials and ghostly simulations.

When the CIA investigates his reclusive lifestyle, it accidentally stirs up an interstellar diplomatic crisis. Wallace's job, and his place in the countryside he loves, are suddenly threatened. So are his hopes for persuading Galactic Central to step in and halt our accelerating slide towards nuclear war. (The Cuban missile crisis was then recent history.)

All the story threads converge neatly: the rustic lynch mob, the galactics, the CIA, the unhappy ghosts, the local deaf-and-dumb girl who can charm warts and heal butterflies, and the bizarre virtual-reality rifle range built for Wallace by an alien construction team. There are painful losses, victories, and a final note of lonely hope. It's a book of great charm--old-fashioned SF, but timeless rather than dated. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Clifford D. Simak (1904 -1988) Clifford Donald Simak was born in Wisconsin, in 1904. He attended the University of Wisconsin and spent his working life in the newspaper business. He flirted briefly with science fiction in the early '30s but did not start to write seriously until John W. Campbell's Astounding Stories began to rejuvenate the field in 1937. Simak was a regular contributor to Astounding throughout the Golden Age, producing a body of well regarded work. He won the Nebula and multiple Hugo Awards, and in 1977 was the third writer to be named a Grand Master by SFWA. He died in 1988. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. R. Rustage on 24 Mar. 2002
Format: Paperback
This would make a lousy hollywood blockbuster. No explosions, no galactic warships, no evil aliens, no shoot outs or car chases, no impressive special effects, no sex.
But it makes a wonderful book.
This is typical Simak at his best - sci-fi in your backyard - in this case literally. Its a gentle tale of an ordinary guy living in an ordinary place who happens to have an extraordinary job - stationmaster for a branch line of an intergalactic matter transmitter highway. The station is in his back room.
If that idea makes you smile then you will love this low-key gentle adventure. I read it first time about 30 years ago, it has stuck in my mind ever since. On re-reading it hasnt lost any of its charm.
I just wish there were more books like this one. It's simple narrative style is full of genuine humanity.
If we ever need a galactic ambassador I hope we can find someone like Enoch Wallace - or even Simak himself. Someone whose home-spun philosophy: that people are people whatever their colour, shape, size and number of eyes is above the petty power mongering that the adversaries in this book epitomise.
Lighten your day by reading something warm and fulfilling. This is a great and timeless little classic.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "scribeoflight" on 1 Jun. 2003
Format: Paperback
Although 'Way Station' is never at the top of "Best SF Novel" polls, it is quite frequently placed somewhere near the top, a quiet classic which every one should read. Simak's story of a man (the odd and fascinating Enoch) from the 19th century taken on by 'Galactic Centre' to run a secret stopping-off point for travellers moving from solar system to solar system is a moving, intelligent, and brilliantly imagined classic. Occasionally the style of the prose feels dated and the 'philosophy' becomes sentimental, but once those brief occasions are accounted for what becomes clear is that 'Way Station' is a novel packed with ideas (both SF and more broadly philosophical) and with a desire to tell a wild and original story. There is soul and passion here (things that are sometimes hard to find) and - crucially - an unfettered appreciation of the amazing and breath-taking potential of science fiction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 May 2001
Format: Paperback
This tells the story of Enoch Wallace, a survivor of the US Civil War, who is now 124 yrs old but looks only 30. His long life is due to the fact that his house has become a 'Way Station' on an intergalactic trade route and his contacts with aliens has enabled his immortality. Aliens stop off at the Way Station on their way to other planets in the galaxy. However, the Way Station is under threat, both from humans on earth (his long life has raised questions) and from political intrigue in the galaxy. The search is on for the mythical 'Talisman' which is supposed to bring peace to all the galaxy.
I enjoyed this book immensely. Although it was written in 1964, it is still relevant today, particularly in exploring the attitudes of men to things they do not understand. The character of Enoch Wallace is well developed and his snapshot view of a galaxy populated with many different aliens is tantalising, leaving one wishing Simak had told us more about them. Definitely one of Simak's best books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lancaster Steve on 23 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
They don't make 'em like they used to" is an apt phrasing fitting many different things, not the least of which is science fiction. Way Station was written in the 1960s, and I can't imagine a book anything like it being written today. I don't think we have anyone like Clifford D Simak writing science fiction today though.

Simak writes 'pastoral sf', a heady mix of technology, philosophy, and a love of backwoods America. He is equally at home describing the beautiful countryside, or the sound of skylarks on a spring day as he is imagining strange aliens, advanced technology and weird science.

Way Station centres around Enoch Wallace, an American Civil War veteran, living in backwoods America, who meets an alien one day and is asked to be the keeper of a Galactic 'waystation' for travellers journeying between the stars. As it is not a part of the Galactic community, Earth is off-limits but is a necessary stopping place (like a rest area service station on the motorway or interstate I guess!) Enoch meets many strange creatures and wonderful things, but keeps his feet firmly on the ground of mother Earth. Things stay this way for more than a century with Enoch barely aging. Eventually though, someone's bound to notice...

Way Station isn't a long book, but fits quite a lot in. We learn a bit about the strange - and some not so strange - aliens that Enoch Wallace meets as they travel through his station, and find out something of what he has learned about the galactic community. We get a bit of philosophical musings, and Enoch's worries about the state of humankind, as Earth teeters on the brink of nuclear war (this was written in the 1960s, so at that time nuclear war was a very real and dangerous threat).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Stevens HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 12 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback
Clifford Simak is one of my favourite SF writers, and he manages to make the most unlikely situations seem quite believable and normal. His characters are (almost) always warm and sympathetic, fitting in perfectly with his beautifully depicted landscapes.

Way Station concerns an old farmhouse set in the backwoods of Wisconsin, and the story has resonances from the old Coaching Inns or perhaps Stage Coach watering holes, but the assorted visitors passing through are anything but human. The farmhouse pre-dates the Tardis in being ever so much bigger on the inside than it is externally.

The story is about the hero Enoch Wallace, and the human interaction with the bad, good and great off-worlders, and how eventually our world (perhaps) begins to come to terms with being part of the Universe.

A simple story, deceptively simply told, but it is also a skilfully crafted masterpiece and a Hugo winner. I think it might be Simak's best, but I have several others of his that come close. I've lost track of how many times I've read my paperback copy in the forty years I've owned it.
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