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Synopsis

Clifford Donald Simak (August 3, 1904 - April 25, 1988) was an American science fiction writer. He was honored by fans with three Hugo awards and by colleagues with one Nebula award and was named the third Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) in 1977.

Simak himself sums up his lifes work in the Foreword to 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. 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.

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His dream spun its fragile net about the planets of the Solar System, about their moons, about every single foot of planetary ground where men had gone to build and create a second homeland-the mines of Mercury and the farms of Venus, the pleasure-lands of Mars and the mighty domed cities on the moons of Jupiter, the moons of Saturn and the great, cold laboratories of Pluto.

...After graduation Gregory Manning had gone on to world fame, had roamed over the face of every planet except Jupiter and Saturn, had visited every inhabited moon, had climbed Lunar mountains, penetrated Venusian swamps, crossed Martian deserts, driven by a need to see and experience that would not let him rest.

...And though the field seemed entirely transparent, you couldnt see the rod, even after I had pushed enough of it in so it should have come out the other side.

...All he had to do was tap that key and they would know, beyond all argument, whether or not they had dipped into the awful heart of material energy; whether, finally, they held in their grasp the key to the release of energy that would give the System power to spare.

...Then the Alexanderson accumulators made it possible to pump the life-blood of power to the far reaches of the System, and on Mercury and Venus, and to a lesser extent on Earth, great accumulator power plants had sprung up, with Interplanetary, under the driving genius of Spencer Chambers, gaining control of the market.

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