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ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE SENTINEL -- The story which inspired 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; when man sets off the galactic burglar alarm, who will answer the call?


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ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE ARTHUR C. CLARKE'S FAVORITE STORIES THE NINE BILLION NAMES OF GOD -- A short-term course for computer the way to God. TROUBLE WITH TIME -- Martian time proves that crimes doesn't pay! NO MORNING AFTER -- Drink, drink and be merry, for tomorrow there will be no morning after... THE POSSESSED -- Or, why the lemmings drowned. ENCOUNTER AT DAWN -- The day the gods came to Earth. THE SENTINEL -- The story which inspired 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY; when man sets off the galactic burglar alarm, who will answer the call?

30 review for The Nine Billion Names of God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kuhn

    “He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover.” Arthur C. Clarke is one of my favorite authors. I suppose I’m biased and would enjoy anything written by him. This little eight-page story is not shocking or mind-blowing or even complex. It’s so short, I’m not going to summarize the plot or anything (read it! It's all over the net for free). It’s a straight forward little tale, but it’s the subtleties tha “He was leaning against the wind-smoothed stones and staring morosely at the distant mountains whose names he had never bothered to discover.” Arthur C. Clarke is one of my favorite authors. I suppose I’m biased and would enjoy anything written by him. This little eight-page story is not shocking or mind-blowing or even complex. It’s so short, I’m not going to summarize the plot or anything (read it! It's all over the net for free). It’s a straight forward little tale, but it’s the subtleties that make it good. First, it sets up the premise, and explains away plot holes with minimal story. It uses relatively simple language, but still manages to feel eloquent. “He began to sing, but gave it up after a while. This vast arena of mountains, gleaming like whitely hooded ghosts on every side, did not encourage such ebullience.” Second, it doesn’t reveal its theme. It could spark questions around existence or god or such, but it’s certainly not heavy handed in any way. It makes the reader work, it makes the reader ask the questions, rather than have them laid out for them. There are other subtleties such as the fact that the monks are not particularly pious that made me consider it more deeply. “The squat, angular buildings were silhouetted against the afterglow of the sunset; here and there lights gleamed like portholes in the sides of an ocean liner.” Third, it teases the ending, you’ll likely guess the outcome, but then it does leave just enough ambiguity to make you question what Clarke was intending. This, for me, was especially heightened because of another little subtle comment by the monk, “It’s nothing as trivial as that.”, which opens up all kinds of questions. I guess my point is, you could write a much more complex story, raise more obvious questions about life and our existence, but would it be better than this one? I think not.

  2. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Apocalypse Sometime As we approach the 9 billion mark in population sometime around the centennial anniversary of this title story, perhaps it would be prudent to consider Clarke as a prophet who writes cryptically but with some prescience.* Who knows but by then FaceBook will have us all identified, catalogued and tracked. Putin might well be CEO (he of course will live forever), and he could indeed manipulate the news such that the stars start to blink out. I must say also that Clarke gives a v Apocalypse Sometime As we approach the 9 billion mark in population sometime around the centennial anniversary of this title story, perhaps it would be prudent to consider Clarke as a prophet who writes cryptically but with some prescience.* Who knows but by then FaceBook will have us all identified, catalogued and tracked. Putin might well be CEO (he of course will live forever), and he could indeed manipulate the news such that the stars start to blink out. I must say also that Clarke gives a very different meaning to Saramago’s All the Names (See: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). Just sayin’. *I say ‘we’ but of course I won’t be there to enjoy the celebrations (or the mayhem depending 0n conditions). I can only suggest that those who are present keep a sharp lookout for suspicious looking Tibetan monks.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    "And what happens then?" asks the American computer technician, trying to make a joke of it. "The end of the world?" "Oh," replies the monk very seriously, "it's nothing as trivial as that."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Sometimes, I want to feel chills after I read something. Cold chills. And slow ones, too. Chills that make you want to sit still and close your eyes, because you're so incredibly, absolutely freaked out. The title story is not a horror tale. Artie only wrote high-brow sci/fi, which this is. But the ending....well, let's put it this way: I'll never be able to look up at the stars in the night sky and not think of it. (there's a last time for everything)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nərmin

    The idea of this story-advanced computer technology being used to solve an ancient religious question. Well, story was interesting but ending was a bit scary... I have a love-hate relationship with open-ended stories . Actually, it was not quite open-ended.. Everything just ended...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Allen

    It's hard to know exactly what to mention in a review of a book containing so many short stories, but as this collection contains my two favourites, I suppose I'll mention those. The Nine Billion Names of God was the first Arthur C Clarke story I ever read, and within a week of reading it I was devouring his work. This story appeals to me on so many levels, but the thing that sticks with me the most is the very last line of the story. I can say without a doubt that it's the most beautiful line I It's hard to know exactly what to mention in a review of a book containing so many short stories, but as this collection contains my two favourites, I suppose I'll mention those. The Nine Billion Names of God was the first Arthur C Clarke story I ever read, and within a week of reading it I was devouring his work. This story appeals to me on so many levels, but the thing that sticks with me the most is the very last line of the story. I can say without a doubt that it's the most beautiful line I have ever read. It gives me goosebumps every single time I read it - which is about once a month. The Star appeals to my interests in religion and science and the way they manage to co-exist. It's short, but beautifully conceived, and again, the very last paragraph is masterfully written. The conclusion dawns on you at exactly the right moment. It doesn't have quite the impact for me as the last line of The Nine Billion Names of God, but it's nearly there. Although his full-length works are arguably better known, Arthur C Clarke was a master of the short story. Perfectly structured, beautifully written, and always thought-provoking.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andreas

    In fact, I only read the eponymous story. Full review and analysis at my blog. A Tibetan monastery buys a computer to help them calculating and printing all possible names of God. They started this manual task some 300 years ago, estimated that it would take another 15,000 years to finish and now want to speed up things - the computer will finish the job within 100 days. Why? In fact, I only read the eponymous story. Full review and analysis at my blog. A Tibetan monastery buys a computer to help them calculating and printing all possible names of God. They started this manual task some 300 years ago, estimated that it would take another 15,000 years to finish and now want to speed up things - the computer will finish the job within 100 days. Why?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian Ferguson

    My life changed in 1968 at the age of 14 when I saw the the film "2001:A Space Odyssey" in Cinerama (a very wide,curved screen). It opened my eyes to philosophy (Nietzsche), symphonic music ("Also Sprach Zarathustra"), and cinematography (Stanley Kubrick), I began to look for anything related to this film. Soon thereafter I read this book of short stories by the screenwriter of the film, Arthur C. Clarke. The title story "The Nine Billion Names of God" has stayed with me ever since I read it. I d My life changed in 1968 at the age of 14 when I saw the the film "2001:A Space Odyssey" in Cinerama (a very wide,curved screen). It opened my eyes to philosophy (Nietzsche), symphonic music ("Also Sprach Zarathustra"), and cinematography (Stanley Kubrick), I began to look for anything related to this film. Soon thereafter I read this book of short stories by the screenwriter of the film, Arthur C. Clarke. The title story "The Nine Billion Names of God" has stayed with me ever since I read it. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it, but it sure can cause one to reexamine one's assumptions....

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Arthur C. Clarke has never been my favourite science fiction author -- though this is usually considered blasphemy, I don't particularly like the Rama or 2001 series -- but on the other hand he is a prolific and talented short story writer. It didn't take me long to finish this book -- partly because of the length, and the many power outages we have had recently, but also because as soon as you finish one short story you immediately want to move to the next.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bronislava

    Ďalšia krátka poviedka, dnes mám na ne náladu :) Je zdarma na webe v textovej forme. (Možno niekde zvučí aj ako audio.) Prvá veta: “This is a slightly unusual request,” said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint. Posledná veta: (view spoiler)[Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out. (hide spoiler)] Ďalšia krátka poviedka, dnes mám na ne náladu :) Je zdarma na webe v textovej forme. (Možno niekde zvučí aj ako audio.) Prvá veta: “This is a slightly unusual request,” said Dr. Wagner, with what he hoped was commendable restraint. Posledná veta: (view spoiler)[Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out. (hide spoiler)]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Drew Perron

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The punch of the ending relies on the reader being a smug Westerner who needs jolted out of their fixed viewpoint, so if that's not you, it may be less effective. Still, the combination of computer science and mysticism is always nice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Franci

    Interesting concept. I liked the ending a lot.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Good stories.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Barbm1020

    These stories were maybe 6 stars good when they were new. They are from a time when imagination and extrapolation from new ideas (so many new ideas) eclipsed character. So yeah, they are great stories from an undisputed master. The style is pretty much Man Meets the Future, a celebration of possibilities and an occasional caution about human overconfidence and the fragility of life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    I came across this book as I was looking at the significance of true names. I didn't read the whole collection, but I read the first and last stories and enjoyed them, despite their calling into question the truth of Christianity. What I enjoyed was the sense of shock at the end, a shock that made me raise my eyebrows, shake my head, and laugh. So in that sense the stories were "good" stories—they raised important questions and made me think, and I enjoyed the process. Plus, they're very short s I came across this book as I was looking at the significance of true names. I didn't read the whole collection, but I read the first and last stories and enjoyed them, despite their calling into question the truth of Christianity. What I enjoyed was the sense of shock at the end, a shock that made me raise my eyebrows, shake my head, and laugh. So in that sense the stories were "good" stories—they raised important questions and made me think, and I enjoyed the process. Plus, they're very short stories (5–10 pages each). "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Star" both have Wikipedia pages, and a 1985 Twilight Zone episode adapted "The Star" for television. The TV version (see Part 1 and Part 2) ends more optimistically than the story does.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ran

    If you're a fan of science fiction, if your imagination takes you to the stars and thinking about its vastness and our existence in the universe humbles you and fills you with awe, you will LOVE this book. Some of these stories are just incredible in both concept and the impactful way that they're told. I can definitely say that this is now one of my favorite books and I can't believe I haven't read it until now.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    A classic short story, with one of the all-time classic last lines!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Kuckkahn

    Personal Response: I didn't find this short story to be particularly interesting at all. The plot doesn't seem well thought out and is kind of disappointing for the title the story bears. I'm sure the concept could've been more interesting with more emotional or moral stakes, but the stakes here just seem lazy. Plot: Dr. Wagner is requested by a Tibetan monastery to supply and maintain the condition of an automatic sequencing machine. The lama there explains that they want to sequence and record al Personal Response: I didn't find this short story to be particularly interesting at all. The plot doesn't seem well thought out and is kind of disappointing for the title the story bears. I'm sure the concept could've been more interesting with more emotional or moral stakes, but the stakes here just seem lazy. Plot: Dr. Wagner is requested by a Tibetan monastery to supply and maintain the condition of an automatic sequencing machine. The lama there explains that they want to sequence and record all of the names of God, and the automatic sequencing machine will have the job done astronomically faster than any number of scribes could have done it. 3 months later, Dr. Wagner is talking to his partner George about the project, and George reveals that the monks believe when the names are completed that the world will come to an end as God's purpose will be fulfilled. Afraid at any financial and physical reprimand from the monks, after the world fails to end, Dr. Wagner and George plans to slow down the machine until their plane arrives in a few weeks. As Dr. Wgner and George approach their plane on horseback and prepare to leave, they comment on how insane the monks are to believe that simply listing names would bring about the end of all things, but as George takes a look at the sky he realizes that all of the stars are going out. Characterization: Dr. Wagner: A scientist who created the automatic sequencing machine. He is recruited by the monks to allow the usage of and to maintain the machine. George: Dr. Wagner's partner. The lamas: Leaders of the Tibetan monastery who believe that listing all of the names of God will bring about the end of the world. Setting Analysis: Dr. Wagner and his friend are far away from home and require a plane to get back. This causes tension that doesn't amount to anything, as the scientists want to delay the machine until their plane arrives. This story could've been placed anywhere in the world, as long as there is some type of religious background. The setting does, however, contribute to a very subtle mysterious feel, as most readers just don't have any experience with Tibetan monks or their culture. The setting just does not have a great impact on the story. Thematic Connections: Perhaps the story tries to get across how religion isn't that crazy of an idea, or maybe how we can never be certain that another's religion is false. There is an obvious conflict between what the scientists believe and what the monks believe, after all. Another possible theme could be how certain religious groups are willing to do anything for their diety, and we should be careful in what technology we give to who. Recommendations: I would say that this story isn't really worth anyone's time at all. The plot is dead simple, and the moral of the story is cloudy at best. There's on meaningful tension and no mystery. This story feels more like a history textbook. Anyone who's 6 years or younger might enjoy this book for the simplicity and high-world ending- stakes, but other than that, the story is not worth your time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Lloyd

    I have a whole bunch of reasons why I hate writing like this. But mostly it boils down to bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng... and it ain't the physics. I'll read physics till the stars die. The Prince Charles story nearly made me quit but I stuck with it because reasons (mostly related to goodreads targets). The War of the Worlds story made me long for Vonnegut, who would at least have got a sociologically interesting point in there somewhere. For all that Clarke cast aspersions on the social sciences, if he'd I have a whole bunch of reasons why I hate writing like this. But mostly it boils down to bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng... and it ain't the physics. I'll read physics till the stars die. The Prince Charles story nearly made me quit but I stuck with it because reasons (mostly related to goodreads targets). The War of the Worlds story made me long for Vonnegut, who would at least have got a sociologically interesting point in there somewhere. For all that Clarke cast aspersions on the social sciences, if he'd actually read any perhaps he would have been able to imagine more interesting worlds, rather than this world but with slightly different gravity (and if there's a woman there she's just for a man to try to have sex with, and there are likely other 'races' to dominate... I mean I know values have changed but come on man). When I was a kid, my primary school library had a bunch of Clarke and Asimov etc and I would give it a try from time to time (because cool pictures of robots and space on the cover), but quit after a few pages, bored to snoozes. I thought that might have been a maturity thing but actually maybe 10-year-old me had decent taste. When I think about why I didn't go on to study physics formally, I think it's likely because my high school physics teacher loved this boring junk and I kind of felt like maybe it was a prerequisite. If someone had told me that physics is almost entirely maths, maybe I would be doing something different right now. Or maybe nah because social sciences are important and hard sciences are much more social than (white, male) hard scientists like to admit. Anyway, to recap, bo-o-o-ri-i-i-ng...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    Not only a short story collection, but a collection of VERY short stories (some surprisingly so). In spite of their concise length, the stories have a collective power that is very disturbing at times, as it seeks to point an accusing finger at the innate hubris of humanity...and succeeds in any number of ways. This can truly be described as Arthur C Clarke distilled.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ardon Pillay

    A brilliant short story, definitely worth a read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Keelan

    At first I was a bit cold on this story, but thinking further on it, I'm definitely a fan. It's the literary equivalent of minimalism.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Will Chin

    Coming off of a plot- and science-heavy novel — The Martian by Andy Weir — it is nice to once again bask in the warm, cerebral embrace of classic science fiction. Even though I am familiar with the works of Arthur C Clarke, this is the first time I am reading his short stories. I quite enjoy this format of storytelling from classic science fiction authors. Instead of telling long, sweeping stories about space exploration and our place in the universe, we are instead served these vignettes that s Coming off of a plot- and science-heavy novel — The Martian by Andy Weir — it is nice to once again bask in the warm, cerebral embrace of classic science fiction. Even though I am familiar with the works of Arthur C Clarke, this is the first time I am reading his short stories. I quite enjoy this format of storytelling from classic science fiction authors. Instead of telling long, sweeping stories about space exploration and our place in the universe, we are instead served these vignettes that serve the same purpose. Collectively, these stories present different facades of space exploration, reminiscent of one of my favourites from Clarke: Rendezvous With Rama. Of course, this being a collection of short stories, there are hits and misses here. My favourites, though, are: 1. The Nine Billion Names Of God 2. Rescue Party 3. Dog Star 4. The Wall of Darkness 5. The Sentinel 6. The Star

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    This is a great bunch of Arthur C. Clarke short stories. It includes "The Sentinel" which is the short story that 2001: A Space Odyssey was based on. Clarke wrote what is my favorite types of science fiction--dealing with space travel, first contact, post- or near-apocalyptic... and this book has awesome examples of all of these.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nitish Andola

    “Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.” - Max Planck A nice little story that will make you thinking for days.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristina Spralja

    That part...(still laughing as I'm writing this) in which the scientist and the lama discuss the plausible outcome is ingeniously comical. I find the whole story hilarious despite the...eh-em 'trivial' ending.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peace

    "And what happens then?" asks the American computer technician, trying to make a joke of it. "The end of the world?" "Oh," replies the monk very seriously, "it's nothing as trivial as that." ... Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bev

    One of my all time favorite collections of stories!

  30. 5 out of 5

    James Campbell

    solid collection of hard sci fi stories with commentary by the author on some of them

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