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Reviews of Wailing Asteroid, the (1960)

Review by pfeutzeneutre (2006-11-04) Contains spoilers. View anyway.

The Wailing Asteroid was a surprisingly good read. I picked it up at a thrift store based solely on the title, and now after having finished the book, I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of it before.

There are quite a few notable similarities between this book others that it predates such as Rendezvous With Rama, 2001, and Contact, as well as the movie Explorers and the LucasArts computer adventure game The Dig. A mysterious repeating signal is suddenly heard around the world, causing uproar in the scientific community. The protagonist is guided by a recurring dream to build a device that turns out to be a spaceship, which then carries him to the source of the signal. What was initially thought to be an asteroid is discovered to be an abandoned outpost of a superior race, its beacon activated by the approach of "the Enemy". It is up to our intrepid group of amateur explorers to solve the mystery of the space fortress and save the solar system.

Though it predates the above mentioned works, it should be noted that it itself is predated by Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel". Also notable is that a film, "the Terrornauts," was loosely based on this book.

The story is quite enjoyable, though I'm sure some might find fault with the dubious science. The plot sails along at a steady clip, a satisfying page-turner. The characters are a bit one-dimensional, and there is a romance subplot which feels tacked on and out of place. Still, these faults are not enormous, and I felt did not detract from the reading experience.

In conclusion, I unreservedly recommend this book to any fan of imaginative science fiction.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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