The Star Bomb

Do you think, asked Hannar, that you will build fairer cities than this beneath those strange suns, when you have left our world forever? – If we feel that impulse, yes. If not, we will build other things. But build we must ; and what have your people created in the last hundred years? – Because we have made no machines, because we have turned our backs upon the stars and are content with our own world, don’t thing we have been completely idle. Here in Shastar we have evolved a way of life that I do not think has ever been surpassed. We have studied the art of living; ours is the first aristocracy in which there are no slaves. That is our achievement, by which history will judge us. (The road to the see. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth)

The capsule was scratched and stained with mud, but appeared undamaged. It was lying on its side now, looking rather like a giant milk-churn that had been tipped over. The passenger must have been bumped around. But if he’d fallen all the way back from the Moon he must have been well padded and was probably still in good shape (Hate. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

“It’s perfectly typical Class E culture”, said the professor. “Technically advanced, morally rather backward. However, they are already used to the conception of space flight, and will soon take us for granted. The normal precautions will be sufficient until we have won their confidence.” (Publicity Campaign. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

In an infinite cosmos everything must happen somewhere – including their singularly bad luck. For it was hungry – very hungry – and a tiger or a man would have been a small yet acceptable morsel to any one of its half dozen gaping mouths. (The Other Tiger. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

A gray thunderbolt shot up out of the depths and smashed back onto the surface of the water, smothering Don with spray. It was just Benj’s modest way of drawing attention to himself; a moment later the porpoise had swum up to the conning tower, so that Don could reach down and tickle its head. The great, intelligent eyes stared back into his; was it pure imagination, or did an almost human sense of fun also lurk in their depths? (The Deep Range. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

He stared into the west, away from the blinding splendor of the sun – and there were the stars, as he had been told but had never quite believed. He gazed at them for a long time, marvelling that anything could be so bright and yet so tiny. (If I forget thee, oh Earth. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

”To ride secure the cruel sky.” Not even birds had ever possessed such freedom of the third dimension; this was the real conquest of space. The Levitator would open up the mountains and the high places of the world, as a lifetime ago the aqualung had opened up the sea. Once these units had passed their tests and were mass-produced cheaply, every aspect of human civilization would be changes. Transport would be revolutionized. Space travel would be no more expensive than ordinary flying; all mankind would take to the air. What had happened a hundred years earlier with the invention of the automobile was only a mild foretaste of the staggering social and political changes that mush now come. (The Cruel Sky. Arthur C. Clarke, Tales from Planet Earth).

Reactions to the BDI fell into three main categories, which divided the scientific community into fiercely warring groups. First there were the enthusiasts, who were certain that it was a wonderful idea. Then there were the skeptics, who argued that it was technically impossible – or at least so difficult that it would not be cost-effective. Finally, there were those who believed that it was indeed possible – but would be a bad idea (Arthur C. Clarke, On Golden Seas).


To ride secure the cruel sky. Illustration by Megan Jorgensen

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