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Way Station (novel): Wikis


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Way Station  
1964 Macfadden Edition cover
Author Clifford D. Simak
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science Fiction
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date 1963
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)

Way Station is a 1963 science fiction novel by Clifford D. Simak, originally published as Here Gather the Stars in two parts in Galaxy Magazine in June and August 1963. Way Station won the 1964 Hugo Award for Best Novel.


Plot summary

Enoch Wallace, an American Civil War veteran, is chosen by an alien called Ulysses to administer a way station for interplanetary travel. Wallace is the only human being who knows of the existence of these aliens, until almost a hundred years later, when the US government becomes aware of and suspicious about his failure to age or die. Factions in the galactic federation want to close off development of Earth's entire arm of the galaxy to concentrate resources elsewhere, and the government's stealing the body of a dead alien gives them impetus to push forward, while the loss of an artifact giving contact with the spirit of the universe causes galactic civilization to begin to fray.

The novel has a number of seemingly disconnected subplots that are not resolved until the conclusion of the book:

  • The government is very interested in him and spies on him for an indeterminate time.
  • His closest neighbors are an asocial and coarse hillbilly family whose daughter is a deaf mute. She heals warts, birds and butterflies and is the total antithesis of her clan.
  • Adopting an alien math, he computes that the world will go to war and predicts nuclear suicide.
  • He has a gun he never uses except in an elaborate hunting simulation.
  • His ghostly support system which he created years ago collapses on him.
  • He is left with the choice of allowing the earth to destroy itself in war or call down a galaxy sponsored "dumbing down" that would last for generations but avert the looming war.

This novel uses a somewhat archaic voice, and some of the grammar is difficult to follow:

  • "Somewhere, he thought, on the long backtrack of history, the human race had accepted an insanity for a principle and had persisted in it until today that insanity-turned-principle stood ready to wipe out, if not the race itself, at least all of those things, both material and immaterial, that had been fashioned as symbols of humanity through many hard-won centuries."
  • "I've been figuring for years how to get it told, but there's no way of doing it."

The book addresses the cold war and basic human drives towards violence and peace from a science fiction perspective.

Awards and nominations

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

In 2004 Revelstone Entertainment optioned the movie rights to Way Station.[4]


Preceded by
The Man in the High Castle

by Philip K. Dick

Hugo Award for Best Novel
Succeeded by
The Wanderer

by Fritz Leiber



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