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An idea often found in Simak's stories is that there is no past time for a time traveler to go to. Instead, our world moves along in a stream of time, and to move to a different place in time is to move to another world altogether. Thus in City our Earth is overrun by ants, but the intelligent dogs and the remaining humans escape to other worlds in the time stream. In Ring Around the Sun the persecuted paranormals escape to other Earths which, if they could all be seen at once, would be at different stages of their orbit around the sun, hence the title.

In Time is the Simplest Thing a paranormal escapes a mob by moving back in time, only to find that the past is a place where there are no living things and inanimate objects are barely substantial. Time travel also plays an important role in the ingeniously constructed Time and Again , which then ventures into metaphysics. A long-lost space traveler returns with a message which is SF-slanted yet religious in tone. Having crashed on a planet, he is then nurtured by ethereal duplicates—spirits? His fuddled observations are seized upon by religious factions, and a schism then threatens to erupt into war on Earth.

Intelligence, loyalty and friendship, the existence of God and souls, the unexpected benefits and harm of invention, tools as extensions of humanity, and more questions are often explored by Simak's robots, whom he uses as "surrogate humans". Having achieved intelligence, robots move onto common themes such as, "Why are we here? Simak's robot-awareness theme goes farthest in All the Traps of Earth. A year-old robot, a family retainer who earned the name Richard Daniel, is considered chattel to be reprogrammed and lose all its memories.

The robot runs away, hitches onto a spaceship, and passes through hyperspace unprotected. Daniel gains the ability to see and fix problems in anything—a ship, a robot, a human—telekinetically. Yet he's still drifting and hunted as chattel. Finally he stumbles on a frontier planet and finds a purpose, helping the pioneers as a doctor, a servant, a colonist, and a friend. And here Daniel achieves an epiphany: Human-created robots set loose can become agents with para-human abilities that directly or indirectly benefit humanity. Thus do robots, and Mankind, escape "all the traps of earth".

The religious theme is often present in Simak's work, but the protagonists who have searched for God in a traditional sense tend to find something more abstract and inhuman. Hezekiel in A Choice of Gods cannot accept this. Simak's short stories and longer novellas range from the contemplative and thoughtfully idyllic to pure terror, although the punch line is often characteristically understated, as in Good Night Mr.

There is also a group of humorous stories, of which " The Big Front Yard " is the most successful. And Way Station is in the midst of all of the science fiction paraphernalia a moving psychological study of a very lonely man who has to make peace with his past and finally manages to do so, but not without personal loss.

The contemplative nature of the Simak character is a recurring trait both of theme and of the author's style.

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Many of his aliens have a dry, otherworldly sense of humor, and others are unintentionally amusing, either in their speech or their appearance. So too are his robots full of personality, and even his dogs. By contrast, his "heroes" are ciphers. His protagonists are often boring men, never described and never reappearing.

They solve crises by muddling through, and if they fall in love with "the girl" also never described , it's incidental. One of Simak's editors objected to his stories because his heroes were "losers". Simak replied, "I like losers. One finds other traditional SF themes in Simak's work. The importance of knowledge and compassion in "Immigrant" and "Kindergarten".

Identity play, as in "Good Night. Mr James" filmed as The Outer Limits: The Duplicate Man in And there is the revolt of the machines in "Skirmish". Many of these are in Strangers in the Universe. Finally, Simak throws in many science-fictional fillips that remain unexplained. Simak's characters encounter alien creatures and concepts they simply cannot understand, and never will.

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For example, in Special Deliverance , the humans are stalked by The Wailer, which turns out to be a huge wolf-like creature that bellows an infinitely sad howl. They never learn what the creature is, why it seems sad, or how it got there. Simak leaves mysteries hanging in his writing.

Simak himself sums up his life's work in the Foreword to his collection Skirmish. After explaining what themes he avoids—no large-scale alien invasions, no space wars, no empire sagas—he states, "Overall, I have written in a quiet manner; there is little violence in my work. My focus has been on people, not on events. More often than not I have struck a hopeful note I have, on occasions, tried to speak out for decency and compassion, for understanding, not only in the human, but in the cosmic sense.

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I have tried at times to place humans in perspective against the vastness of universal time and space. I have been concerned where we, as a race, may be going, and what may be our purpose in the universal scheme—if we have a purpose. In general, I believe we do, and perhaps an important one. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the village in Iran, see Simak, Iran.

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Index to Literary Nominees. The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 22, — via Newspapers. Archived from the original on The New York Times. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information.

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Select a particular edition title for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents. Copyright by Clifford D. Novels by Clifford D. Heinlein Jack Williamson Clifford D. Cherryh Jane Yolen Peter S. Retrieved from " https: Webarchive template wayback links CS1 maint: Views Read Edit View history.

In other projects Wikimedia Commons Wikiquote. This page was last edited on 9 September , at By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Two friends use their time machine to go into the future, but travel further than they ever intended. It is always dangerous for an outlander to become too interested in the sacred things of an alien race.

Successful exploration of new lands must be made by young men in order to meet the numberless new conditions that arise and to take advantage of them. Earth has lost at football to Mars for decades because men have grown soft. So the coach reaches back for real he-men - back 3, years. Iowa farmers on Venus and the "polka-dot weed" alone offered a cure for the deadly weapon of an ancient people. On Jupiter's desolate moon, two cantankerous veterans of the Earth-Mars War end up fighting shoulder-to shoulder against rampaging robots. The fourth, and only, spaceship to return from Mars holds an insane crew and a Martian "furball".

A woman dares two guides to trek into Madman's Canyon, where no one's ever escaped with their sanity. The power station on Mercury tolerates the "Roman Candle" energy beings that cavort outside - until a crew member goes missing. Co-written with Carl Jacobi. A disgraced physicist watches his city disappear as people stop believing it exists.

A blind man and his alien seeing eye dog have only a hunch that an epidemic of insanity stems from a million-year-old war. On a planet ruled by intelligent vegetables - music trees, rifle trees, and electro-vines - humans seeking to exploit the resources find themselves exploited. Since everyone moved to the country with their atomic generators and personal aircraft, the cities are largely abandoned. What's left of the city councils will burn the empty houses—unless someone has a better idea. Touring the asteroid Juno, a bookkeeper is mistaken for a gunman and forced to clean up the town!

Touring the rings of Saturn, a bookkeeper runs into mathematically minded bugs and rough-and-tumble miners out to play space polo - with Meek as their star player! Project Mastodon- A cat-faced alien stranded in Wisconsin befriends locals, then time-engineers portals into prehistoric epochs. The locals start a tourism company for big-game hunters, and maybe a new country: Four Science Fiction Masters. The Dumarest eBook Collection. The Complete Mystery Series. Robots Have No Tails. The Mammoth Book of Alternate Histories.

For Love of Mother Not. The complete works of Saki. The Book of Ptath. Harry Harrison Super Pack. The Robert Sheckley Megapack. Science Fiction Super Pack 1. The Second Fredric Brown Megapack.

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The Forge of God. The Second Science Fiction Megapack. Stranger in a Strange Land. The Science Fiction Megapack: The Best of the Destroyer. The Golem and the Djinni. Grotto of the Dancing Deer. Out of Their Minds. A Choice of Gods. The Science Fiction Archive 3. Galaxy Science Fiction Super Pack 2. No Life of Their Own. Fantasy Super Pack 1. The Ghost of a Model T. Time is the Simplest Thing. A Heritage of Stars. The World That Couldn't Be. They Walked Like Men. The Big Front Yard. I Am Crying All Inside. Ring Around the Sun. The Fellowship of the Talisman. All Flesh is Grass.