Arthur C. Clarke is a classic master of hard science fiction, but for anyone who thinks that means hard-to-read stories dense with complex technology, this book is a delightful surprise. There is danger and adventure and futuristic technology told from the view point of a teenage boy who does not need to explain everything. The author’s note at the end reveals why the images of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, where most of the story is set, are so vivid. They are based on Clarke’s own explorations.
So many sci-fi books are apocalyptic epics that read like narratives of video games. Clarke’s story is gentler and more rational. The story feels like it could really happen as the diverse characters encounter dangers, help each other, and also just have fun. The research on dolphins that is the center piece of the story could be underway somewhere today and the contributions of the teenage characters are plausible. The future technology seems so feasible that it’s rather disappointing to realize it’s been fifty years since Clarke wrote and his visions haven’t been realized yet. That also means the book is not outdated or obsolete.
Dolphin Island, by Arthur C. Clarke, was first published in 1963. It is now available as an ebook. This short book is fun to read and all ages can enjoy it.