“ Genre: Sci-Fi / Fantasy / Author: Clifford D. Simak / Hardcover / 188 Pages / Book is published 1976-05 by Putnam Pub Group „
Shakespeare's Planet is unusual for a Clifford.D.Simak novel in that it is slightly more conventional than might normally be expected from this popular sci-fi author. An intergalactic adventure set on a distant planet many light years from home, the story tells the story of Carter Horton; a man out of time finding himself all alone on a mission to the stars.
Carter Horton awakes from deep sleep on an alien world only to find that the other three members of his crew have all perished whilst in suspended animation. He is part of a mission seeking out new planets to call home but The Ship, controlled by the three human brains of formerly important members of Earth society, has taken longer than was previously thought to find a suitable place to land and thousands of years have passed since they left. At first Carter's only companion is the robot, Nicodemus, but then the pair encounter Carnivore, likewise an alien traveller, who has come here by an intergalactic space tunnel only to find himself trapped! These tunnels can take you anywhere (and maybe anywhen?) in the universe but it quickly transpires that all knowledge of their intended use has been lost and often destinations can turn out to be fairly random. The tunnel on this world, moreover, has been closed meaning that travel to this world is one-way only. You can get here alright...but unfortunately you can never use the tunnels to leave!
What is the secret of the planet? Why has it been closed off from other worlds? What is the mysterious creature seemingly frozen in a block of nothingness in one of the nearby dwellings? And what is the God Hour, an event which happens every day on the planet and that feels like a mighty mental presence reaching out to be touched?
These are just some of the questions you will find yourself asking as you read this novel that, though still one of my favourites, nonetheless is not among his best. For my liking, pieces of the novel where the three brains of The Ship communicate between themselves are overlong and unnessecary and feel a little bit stretched out. And there seems to be a lot of posturing and speculation about the meaning of life and our place in the universe too that kind of detracts from the overall story which is a classic interspace adventure.
There is a lot here to like, and that is why it remains one of my favourite Simak novels, but there is plenty here too to kind of make this a bit overblown at times! Still, it is a likeable enough tale and certainly one that is well worth reading!
If you are a fan of Simak then I reccommend you picking this one up if you can find it. For first time readers of this author though, you might be better off picking up one of his less philosphical novels...