Garbage Collector

The little space of a writer, tinkerer, and a coffee addict

Au carrefour des étoiles - Way Station

Au carrefour des étoiles - Way Station
© Clifford D. Smiak - Nouveau Millénaire (French edition)

Way Station, or Au carrefour des étoiles in French, is an American science fiction novel written in 1963 by Clifford D. Simak.

Enoch Wallace, veteran who fought during the American Civil War, was born in 1840. His life changed when he got suddenly recruited by an alien he named Ulysses (after the Ulysses S. Grant) - since the extraterrestrial life form himself has no actual name - to maintain and manage the Earth Station for the interstellar travellers of the Galactic Central.

All of his life changed. His childhood house inherited from his parents became the basement of the machinery that materializes the travellers in transit. Moreover, Enoch does not age as fast as any human anymore. Despite his secrecy, his neighbours are aware of his longevity. Almost a hundred years later, Enoch is now under the surveillance of the CIA and agent Claude Lewis is sent to investigate on him.

This book was a recommendation I was told to read from a community member of a writers forum. Mostly because its basis was similar to a story I’ve written there. And I must say I wasn’t disappointed ! At the beginning we have the CIA debriefing telling the whereabouts of Enoch and the oddness of his life according the gathered intelligence. But the story quickly shifts to following Enoch himself and his daily life as the only human aware and witness of extraterrestrial life.

Enoch discovered during this century a lot of different things. The story tells about his discussions with alien entities, his encounter with numerous different civilisations. He made friends with the most regular ones, and became in a good relationship with the entity he named Ulysses. He also collect various gifts the traveller offer him to thank him for his job. A big part of the story is about the loneliness of this life Enoch must live despite the various alien people he encounters. Because of the secret, he has no relationship aside the mailman delivering him the various magazines he subscribed and the deaf daughter of a neighbour he met regularly. Enoch is also aware of the CIA observing him, but he ignores them as they just watch. Until they made a terrible move that could jeopardise the whole Earth Station existence and the whole human species. Especially because the humanity was a the dawn of the World War II.

A nice mirror effect in the story is the upcoming crisis on Earth is itself put in balance with another big galactic crisis. The galaxy itself was on the verge of imploding because of the loss of an important symbol that put together the numerous species across it. And Enoch had to take this heavy weight on his shoulder in the name of the humanity, as the sole representative of the species for the rest of the galaxy.

So, Way Station is a story I’ve really enjoyed. Not very long, it’s a nice story about the discovering of the unknown, some tolerance, and the point of view of various different cultures.

📚 Read my latest book

Follow me on Mastodon

🏷️ All Tags 📄 All Posts 🗺 Sitemap RSS Feed