Finis! Happy Birthday to us!
Contained in Earthlight and Other Stories: The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke 1950-1951
By Arthur C. Clarke; Read by Various
Publisher: Phoenix Books
Themes: / Science Fiction / Pubs / Sound / Opera / Physics /
What is it about a good pub that makes it such a good place to tell a story? Spider Robinson’s Callahan says “Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased.” That’s a good enough reason for me. Someone line me up with a pint, and one for my friend Spider. Let’s see who comes along.
“Silence Please” is Arthur C. Clarke’s first White Hart story of the fifteen that were later collected as The Tales of the White Hart. After the unnamed main character tells us of his surroundings (and how difficult this pub called The White Hart is to find), Harry Purvis sidles up to tell the tale of The Felton Silencer, a device that uses noise-canceling technology to deaden sound over a large area. The best use for such an engineering marvel? Revenge, of course!
The physics behind The Felton Silencer are explained fully. Never has an info dump been more entertaining! And the results make me eye those noise-canceling headphones suspiciously. Best use them only for emergencies.
The presentation is superior – Christopher Cazenove gives this one a dramatic read that comes off like a great British comedy.
A long while ago, Fantastic Audio published a series of audiobooks that contained all of the stories in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, a huge collection of Clarke’s short fiction that was published (appropriately enough) in 2001. Phoenix Books is now re-issuing these audiobooks on Audible, at excellent prices. The Earthlight and Other Stories (1950-1951) collection is a great one to start with because in addition to this White Hart story, “The Sentinel” (which later inspired 2001: A Space Odyssey), “Time’s Arrow”, and “Earthlight” are there, too.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson