The Sentinel and 2001: a Space Odyssey

Topics: Arthur C. Clarke, Space exploration, The Sentinel Pages: 6 (1676 words) Published: January 16, 2012
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Record: 1
The Sentinel
Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition; January 2004, p1-2 Article Author:
Virginia, Mary E.
Document Type:
Work Analysis
Biographical Information:
Clarke, Arthur C.
Pseudonym: Charles Willis; E. B. O’Brien
Full Name: Arthur Charles Clarke
Gender: Male
National Identity: United Kingdom; England
Language: English
Publication Information:
Salem Press
Moon; Solar system; Space
A summary and analysis of The Sentinel.
Literary Genres/Subgenres:
Science fiction; Short fiction
Subject Terms:
Exploration or explorers
Extraterrestrial life
Geology or geologists
Moon or moons
Science or scientists
Space flight or travel
Space sciences
Space ships, stations, or vehicles
Accession Number:
Persistent link to this record (Permalink): Cut and Paste:
<A href="">The Sentinel</A> Database:
Literary Reference Center Plus

The Sentinel
Arthur C. Clarke
Pseudonym: Charles Willis; E. B. O’Brien
Born: December 16, 1917; Minehead, Somerset, England
Died: March 19, 2008; Colombo, Sri Lanka
Quick Reference
First published: 1951
Type of plot: Science fiction
Time of work: 1996-2016
Locale: The moon
Principal Characters:
Wilson, a geologist and veteran lunar explorer
Louis Garnett, his assistant
The Story
Wilson, a geologist, recalls his role twenty years earlier as leader of a lunar expedition to a massive plateau, the Mare Crisium, or Sea of Crisis. Although the name is portentous, initially the journey appears to be mundane. Wilson even laments that there is nothing hazardous or especially exciting about lunar exploration. It is, he claims, an uneventful routine. Wilson’s expedition is well equipped. Traveling from the main lunar base, some five hundred miles away, the crew is laden with heavy equipment, including overland tractors, rockets, and scientific sampling machinery. It appears they have little to fear from the unknown. They are in constant radio contact with their base and can survive for a month in their pressurized tractor cabins if there were an emergency. The men live in relative comfort during their tour of duty on the moon. Short wave radio contact with earth provides ubiquitous music for the men as they dine on freshly cooked food. This particular expedition, however, soon deviates from the routine. While preparing his breakfast sausages, Wilson observes a glint of what appears to be a metal object on a far mountain bordering the plateau. Against unanimous dissent from his crew, Wilson and his assistant, Garnett, journey to investigate the object. After scaling a ten-thousand-foot-high mountain at the edge of the plateau, Wilson discovers a small crystalline pyramid. He initially believes that it was created by an extinct, previously undiscovered, indigenous culture. The absence of any other artifacts, coupled with the presence of a sophisticated force-field surrounding the object, soon prove to him that the artifact’s provenance is both extralunar and extraterrestrial. Wilson describes the twenty-year process by which scientists seek to dismantle the artifact and ascertain its nature and function. When all methods prove ineffectual, the scientists resort to atomic energy, reducing the inscrutable object with its mysterious energy source to rubble. Its purpose never determined, the artifact, which had withstood natural destructive forces for millennia, is rendered inoperable by humans. Wilson provides his interpretation of the significance of his...
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