Arthur C Clarke

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CLARKE, Arthur C(harles)

Nationality: British. Born: Minehead, Somerset, 16 December 1917. Education: Huish's Grammar School, Taunton, Somerset, 1927-36; King's College, London, 1946-48, B.Sc. (honours) in physics and mathematics 1948. Military Service: Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force, 1941-46; served as Radar Instructor, and Technical Officer on the first Ground Controlled Approach radar; originated proposal for use of satellites for communications, 1945. Family: Married Marilyn Mayfield in 1954 (divorced 1964). Career: Assistant auditor, Exchequer and Audit Department, London, 1936-41; assistant editor, Physics Abstracts, London, 1949-50; since 1954, engaged in underwater exploration and photography of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the coast of Sri Lanka. Director, Rocket Publishing, London, Underwater Safaris, Colombo, and the Spaceward Corporation, New York. Has made numerous radio and television appearances (most recently as presenter of the television series Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, 1980, and World of Strange Powers, 1985), and has lectured widely in Britain and the United States; commentator, for CBS-TV, on lunar flights of Apollo 11, 12 and 15; Vikram Sarabhai Professor, Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India, 1980. Awards: International Fantasy award, 1952; Hugo award, 1956, 1969 (for screenplay), 1974, 1980; Unesco Kalinga prize, 1961; Boys' Clubs of America award, 1961; Franklin Institute Ballantine medal, 1963; Aviation-Space Writers Association Ball award, 1965; American Association for the Advancement of Science-Westinghouse Science Writing award, 1969; Playboy award, 1971; Nebula award, 1972, 1973, 1979; Jupiter award, 1973; John W. Campbell Memorial award, 1974; American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics award, 1974; Boston Museum of Science Washburn award, 1977; Marconi fellowship, 1982; Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master award, 1986; Vidya Jyothi medal, 1986; International Science Policy Foundation medal, 1992; Lord Perry award, 1992; Presidential Award, University of Illinois, 1997. D.Sc.: Beaver College, Glenside, Pennsylvania, 1971. D. Litt.: University of Liverpool, 1995; University of Hong Kong, 1996. Chair, British Interplanetary Society, 1946-47, 1950-53. Guest of Honor, World Science Fiction Convention, 1956. Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society; Fellow, King's College, London, 1977; Chancellor, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, since 1979. C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire), 1989; knighted, 1998. European satellite, launched in April 2000, named after Clarke in recognition of his contribution to the development of global communication networks. Agent: David Higham Associates Ltd., 5-8 Lower John Street, London W1R 4HA, England; or, Scouil, Chichak, Galen Literary Agency, 381 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10016, U.S.A. Address: 25 Barnes Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka; or, Dene Court, Bishop's Lydeard, Taunton, Somerset TA4 3LT, England.



Prelude to Space. New York, Galaxy, 1951; London, Sidgwick andJackson, 1953; as Master of Space, New York, Lancer 1961; as The Space Dreamers, Lancer, 1969.

The Sands of Mars. London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1951; New York, Gnome Press, 1952.

Against the Fall of Night. New York, Gnome Press, 1953; revised edition, as The City and the Stars, London, Muller, and New York, Harcourt Brace, 1956.

Childhood's End. New York, Ballantine, 1953; London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1954.

Earthlight. London, Muller, and New York, Ballantine, 1955, 1998.

The Deep Range. New York, Harcourt Brace, and London, Muller, 1957.

Across the Sea of Stars (omnibus). New York, Harcourt Brace, 1959.

A Fall of Moondust. London, Gollancz, and New York, HarcourtBrace, 1961.

From the Oceans, From the Stars (omnibus). New York, HarcourtBrace, 1962.

Glide Path. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1963; London, Sidgwick andJackson, 1969.

An Arthur C. Clarke Omnibus [and Second Omnibus ]. London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 2 vols., 1965-68.

Prelude to Mars (omnibus). New York, Harcourt Brace, 1965.

2001: A Space Odyssey (novelization of screenplay), with StanleyKubrick. New York, New American Library, and London, Hutchinson, 1968; with a new introduction, Thorndike, Maine, G. K. Hall, 1994.

The Lion of Comarre, and Against the Fall of Night. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1968; London, Gollancz, 1970.

Rendezvous with Rama. London, Gollancz, and New York, HarcourtBrace, 1973.

Imperial Earth. London, Gollancz, 1975; revised edition, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1976.

The Fountains of Paradise. London, Gollancz, and New York, Harcourt Brace, 1979.

2010: Odyssey Two. New York, Ballantine, and London, Granada, 1982.

The Songs of Distant Earth. London, Grafton, and New York, Ballantine, 1986.

2061: Odyssey Three. New York, Ballantine, and London, Grafton, 1988.

Cradle, with Gentry Lee. London, Gollancz, and New York, Warner, 1988.

Rama II, with Gentry Lee. London, Gollancz, and New York, Bantam, 1989.

Beyond the Fall of Night, with Gregory Benford. New York, Putnam, 1990; with Against the Fall of Night, London, Gollancz, 1991.

The Ghost from the Grand Banks. New York, Bantam, and London, Gollancz, 1990.

The Garden of Rama, with Gentry Lee. London, Gollancz, and NewYork, Bantam, 1991.

Rama Revealed, with Gentry Lee . London, Gollancz, and New York, Bantam, 1993.

The Hammer of God. London, Gollancz, and New York, Bantam, 1993.

Richter 10, with Mike McQuay. New York, Bantam Books, 1996.

3001: The Final Odyssey. New York, Ballantine Books, 1997.

The Trigger, with Michael Kube-McDowell. New York, BantamBooks, 1999.

The Light of Other Days, with Stephen Baxter. New York, Tor, 2000.

Short Stories

Expedition to Earth. New York, Ballantine, 1953; London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1954; New York, Ballantine, 1998.

Reach for Tomorrow. New York, Ballantine, 1956; London, Gollancz, 1962; New York, Ballantine, 1998.

Tales from the White Hart. New York, Ballantine, 1957; London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1972; New York, Ballantine, 1998.

The Other Side of the Sky. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1958; London, Gollancz, 1961.

Tales of Ten Worlds. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1962; London, Gollancz, 1963.

The Nine Billion Names of God: The Best Short Stories of Arthur C. Clarke. New York, Harcourt Brace, 1967.

The Wind from the Sun: Stories of the Space Age. New York, HarcourtBrace, and London, Gollancz, 1972.

Of Time and Stars: The Worlds of Arthur C. Clarke. London, Gollancz, 1972.

The Best of Arthur C. Clarke 1937-1971, edited by Angus Wells. London Sidgwick and Jackson, 1973.

The Sentinel. New York, Berkley, 1983; London, Panther, 1985.

A Meeting with Medusa, with Green Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. New York, Tor, 1988.

Tales from Planet Earth. London, Century, 1989; New York, Bantam, 1990.



2001: A Space Odyssey, with Stanley Kubrick, 1968.


Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics. London, Temple Press, 1950; New York, Harper, 1951; revised edition, 1960.

The Exploration of Space. London, Temple Press, and New York, Harper, 1951; revised edition, 1959.

Islands in the Sky (for children). London, Sidgwick and Jackson, andPhiladelphia, Winston, 1952.

The Young Traveller in Space (for children). London, Phoenix House, 1954; as Going into Space, New York, Harper, 1954; as The Scottie Book of Space Travel, London, Transworld, 1957; revised edition, with Robert Silverberg, as Into Space, New York, Harper, 1971.

The Exploration of the Moon. London, Muller, 1954; New York, Harper, 1955. The Coast of Coral. London, Muller, and New York, Harper, 1956.

The Making of a Moon: The Story of the Earth Satellite Program. London, Muller, and New York, Harper, 1957; revised edition, Harper, 1958.

The Reefs of Taprobane: Underwater Adventures Around Ceylon. London, Muller, and New York, Harper, 1957.

Voice Across the Sea. London, Muller, 1958; New York, Harper, 1959; revised edition, London, Mitchell Beazley, and Harper, 1974.

Boy Beneath the Sea (for children). New York, Harper, 1958.

The Challenge of the Spaceship: Previews of Tomorrow's World. New York, Harper, 1959; London, Muller, 1960.

The First Five Fathoms: A Guide to Underwater Adventure. NewYork, Harper, 1960.

The Challenge of the Sea. New York, Holt Rinehart, 1960; London, Muller, 1961.

Indian Ocean Adventure. New York, Harper, 1961; London, Barker, 1962.

Profiles of the Future: An Enquiry into the Limits of the Possible. London, Gollancz, 1962; New York, Harper, 1963; revised edition, Harper, 1973; Gollancz, 1974, 1982; New York, Holt Rinehart, 1984.

Dolphin Island (for children). New York, Holt Rinehart, and London, Gollancz, 1963.

The Treasure of the Great Reef. London, Barker, and New York, Harper, 1964; revised edition, New York, Ballantine, 1974.

Indian Ocean Treasure, with Mike Wilson. New York, Harper, 1964;London, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1972.

Man and Space, with the editors of Life. New York, Time, 1964.

Voices from the Sky: Previews of the Coming Space Age. New York, Harper, 1965; London, Gollancz, 1966.

The Promise of Space. New York, Harper, and London, Hodder andStoughton, 1968.

First on the Moon, with the astronauts. London, Joseph, and Boston, Little Brown, 1970.

Report on the Planet Three and Other Speculations. London, Gollancz, and New York, Harper, 1972.

The Lost Worlds of 2001. New York, New American Library, andLondon, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1972.

Beyond Jupiter: The Worlds of Tomorrow, with Chesley Bonestell. Boston, Little Brown, 1972.

Technology and the Frontiers of Knowledge (lectures), with others. New York, Doubleday, 1973.

The View from Serendip (on Sri Lanka). New York, Random House, 1977; London, Gollancz, 1978.

1984: Spring: A Choice of Futures. New York, Ballantine, andLondon, Granada, 1984.

Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography: The Technical Writings of Arthur C. Clarke. New York and Chichester, Sussex, Wiley, 1984.

The Odyssey File, with Peter Hyams. New York, Ballantine, andLondon, Granada, 1985.

Astounding Days: A Science-Fictional Autobiography. London, Gollancz, 1989; New York, Bantam, 1990.

How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village. London, Gollancz, and New York, Bantam, 1992.

By Space Possessed: Essays on the Exploration of Space. London, Gollancz, 1993.

The Snows of Olympus: A Garden on Mars. London, Gollancz, 1994.

Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998, edited by Ian T. Macauley. New York, St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Editor, Time Probe: Sciences in Science Fiction. New York, DelacortePress, 1966; London, Gollancz, 1967.

Editor, The Coming of the Space Age: Famous Accounts of Man's Probing of the Universe. London, Gollancz, and New York, Meredith, 1967.

Editor, with George Proctor, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame 3: The Nebula Winners 1965-1969. New York, Avon, 1982.

Editor, July 20, 2019: A Day in the Life of the 21st Century. NewYork, Macmillan, 1986; London, Grafton, 1987.



Arthur C. Clarke: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography by David N. Samuelson, Boston, Hall, 1984.

Manuscript Collection:

Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University.

Critical Studies:

"Out of the Ego Chamber" by Jeremy Bernstein, in New Yorker, 9 August 1969; Arthur C. Clarke edited by Joseph D. Olander and Martin H. Greenberg, New York, Taplinger, and Edinburgh, Harris, 1977; The Space Odysseys of Arthur C. Clarke by George Edgar Slusser, San Bernardino, California, Borgo Press, 1978; Arthur C. Clarke (includes bibliography) by Eric S. Rabkin, West Linn, Oregon, Starmont House, 1979, revised edition, 1980; Against the Night, The Stars: The Science Fiction of Arthur C. Clarke by John Hollow, New York, Harcourt Brace, 1983, revised edition, Athens, Ohio University Press-Swallow Press, 1987; Odyssey: The Authorized Biography of Arthur C. Clarke by Neil McAleer, Chicago, Contemporary Books, and London, Gollancz, 1992; Arthur C. Clarke: A Critical Companion by Robin Anne Reid. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1997; Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany, a Correspondence, edited by Keith Allen Daniels. San Francisco, Anamnesis Press, 1998.

Arthur C. Clarke comments:

I regard myself primarily as an entertainer and my ideals are Maugham, Kipling, Wells. My chief aim is the old SF cliché, "The search for wonder." However, I am almost equally interested in style and rhythm, having been much influenced by Tennyson, Swinburne, Housman, and the Georgian poets.

My main themes are exploration (space, sea, time), the position of Man in the hierarchy of the universe, and the effect of contact with other intelligences. The writer who probably had most influence on me was W. Olaf Stapledon (Last and First Men ).

* * *

Although Arthur C. Clarke's success in the literary field began in the 1950s, his early involvement in the 1930s with the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) heralded his intellectual devotion to outer space. Later, as an enlisted officer in the Royal Air Force, Clarke wrote "Extra Terrestrial Relays" (1945), a prescient article detailing a communications satellite system that predated by two decades the eventual launching of the Early Bird synchronous satellites. Finally, Clarke's first books, the nonfiction Interplanetary Flight and its successor, The Exploration of Space, promoted space travel. The ease with which he rendered complex scientific principles catapulted The Exploration of Space into a Book-of-the-Month selection.

Capitalizing on the relationships he fostered through his affiliation with BIS, Clarke wrote nineteen science fiction (sf) storiessome published under the pseudonyms Charles Willis and E.G. O'Brienbefore his first two novels, Prelude to Space and The Sands of Mars, were published in 1951. While Peter Nicholls remarks in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that these early works are marred by wooden prose and a somewhat mechanical structure, the novels do prefigure the scientific optimism, technological sense of wonder, and sheer entertainment value that dominate Clarke's philosophy and define his sf writing.

A jewel in the wealth of Clarke's short stories, "Sentinel of Eternity," reprinted in Expedition to Earth as "The Sentinel," shines forth, as it is the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's landmark movie 2001: A Space Odyssey and Clarke's 2001 novel adaptation. 2001 tells the story of the Discovery, a spaceship operated by an intelligent computer, HAL 9000. The ship is sent into outer space to track a mysterious signal emanating from a black monolith on Earth's moon. HAL's secret agenda slowly eliminates Discovery 's human crew save Dave Bowman who, encountering a mirror monolith on a Saturn moon, evolves into the Star Child. This narrative of an enigmatic alien artifact, also shown four million years in the past helping encourage the dawn of Man, embodies the scientific and metaphysical qualities of Clarke's writings. Nicholls considers these qualities as Clarke's central paradox; namely, that a writer exploring scientific theories and detailing technological advances should be drawn to the metaphysical, mystical, even quasi-religious essence of space and the universe at large.

Never one to avoid the tensions between science and religion, Clarke's darkly comic "The Nine Billion Names of God" depicts Tibetan monks who, with the aid of Western computer salesmen and technicians, count all the names of God and, fulfilling the purpose of Man, trigger the end of the universe. In the Hugo-winning "The Star," Clarke offers the reader a Jesuit astrophysicist questioning his faith after discovering evidence that the star of Bethlehem, which had announced the birth of Christ to the Three Wise Men, was a supernova that destroyed an entire alien race. "Although the narrator's faith is troubled," writes David N. Samuelson in Science Fiction Writers, "his trust in sciencelike Clarke'sis not."

Childhood's End, Clarke's first successful sf novel, is replete with his thematic interests in its offering of humanity's transcendent evolution under the guidance and tutelage of the Overlords, a devilshaped alien species steering Earth towards an admittedly ambiguous utopia. The true mission of the Overlords is revealed when Jeff Greggsonson of George and Jean Greggson, who, with others, have rejected the Overlords and established an independent New Athensbegins displaying extrasensory powers. Humanity's maturation, it seems, is available only to Earth's children whose mental evolution draws them into the Overmind, a galactic entity transcending physical form. Barred from achieving their own transcendence, the Overlords watch humanity's evolutionary leap while Jan Rodericks, returning from the Overlords' home planet, remains as the last human to record Earth's final destruction. The novel is bittersweet as it announces humanity's next step up the evolutionary ladder while, in the same breath, condemning a humanity left behind.

City and the Stars an updated and expanded version of Clarke's earlier Against the Fall of Night depicts the far-future city of Diaspar as an enclosed urban utopia mediated by a complex computerized system. The protagonist Alvin is a "pure pattern" born out of the Memory Banks matrix, the first human born on Earth in ten million years. With the help of Khedron, a jester designed to introduce randomness into the highly regulated cityscape, Alvin escapes Diaspar only to find a parallel race of mentally evolved agrarian humans living in the town of Lys. Joined by the Lys-born Hilvar, Alvin uncovers a long-buried spaceship and proceeds into outer space to encounter the Vanamonde, a body-less consciousness created to defend Earth from the destructive powers of the equally bodiless Shalmirance. City and the Stars narrates humanity's divergent evolution along mental and technical paths, its subsequent consequences and resultant retreat from outer space, and a resurgent humanity once again reaching out to the stars. With the closing sunset/sunrise imagery symbolizing the eclipse of one epoch and the dawn of another, the "final passages blend a sense of loss and of transcendence with an almost mystical intensity," notes Nicholls.

While non-fiction books and articlesmany of them dealing with undersea explorationdominated Clarke's output in the 1960s, Rendezvous with Rama was the first of an unprecedented three-book deal Clarke signed following the immense success of 2001. Rama follows a group of humans, led by Captain Bill Norton, who explore a derelict artifact (dubbed "Rama") hurtling through space towards the inner solar system. While exploration and adventure dominate a story full of surprises and technological wonders, transcendence and closure are denied in Rama as the ship's intentions are withheld, only to be explored further in a series of sequelsRama II, Garden of Rama, and Rama Revealed written in collaboration with Gentry Lee. Although Clarke's original Rama swept the awards circuit (winning the Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell Memorial Award and British Science Fiction Award), controversy swirled as to whether the book, due to its stylistic flaws and narrative structure, actually deserved the awards or whether the accolade stemmed from the return to fiction of a much beloved sf author.

Clarke's next two novels, Imperial Earth: A Fantasy of Love and Discord and The Fountains of Paradise, offer a treasure trove of technological wonders and scientific imagery. Imperial Earth, notable for descriptions of outer-planet mining, spaceship propulsion, and cloning, tells the story of Titan native Duncan Mackenzie's investigation of political and scientific intrigues on Earth and his bid, through cloning, to procure an heir to his empire. The Fountains of Paradise narrates Vannevar Morgan's attempts to construct a space elevator designed to escape Earth's gravity. Fleshing out the story are two revelations: first, a highly advanced galactic civilization has communicated with the human race through a robot probe; and, second, Prince Kalidasa had challenged the gods 2, 000 years earlier by attempting to build a tower into heaven on Taprobane, the same island-site for Morgan's space elevator. While The Fountains of Paradise won the Hugo, some critics fault the novel for abruptly dropping the Kalidasa storyline and centering the action on a somewhat stereotyped Morgan. Nevertheless, both novels broach the topics of science, technological marvels, and the bid for a taste of immortality, if not godhood.

The 1980s saw Clarke attempt the impossible; namely, to catch lightning in a bottle and write two sequels to 2001. 2010: Odyssey Two and 2061: Odyssey Three attempt to continue the magical weave of science, transcendence, and mystery embodied in the black monolith; unfortunately, the books fail to evoke the same narrative momentum as 2001. 2010 is a proficient book offering a distinctly human story as American/Russian tensions threaten a joint rescue mission of Dave Bowman's Discovery and the reactivation of HAL 9000. 2061 follows Heywood Floyd's exploration of Halley's comet and his subsequent redirection to the Jovian moon of Europathe one place the monoliths had expressively forbidden humans to visit. While Clarke attempts to sustain the mystery of the monolith through the course of these books, critics feel the monolith was adequately explained in 2001 or, on the other hand, disappointingly depicted in the subsequent sequels. Although the 2001 sequels offer high-caliber scientific ideas and wondrous descriptions of the universe, Clarke's success at plot advancement and narrative vision is questionable.

The lukewarm critical reception of the 2001 sequels is symptomatic of the response to Clarke's contemporary work; in fact, divergent opinions on Clarke's narrative execution has increasingly dogged the latter phase of his career. For example, popular and critical responses to The Songs of Distant Earth an expansion of a 1958 short story about human survivors introducing conflict to the inhabited utopia of Thallassaand Richter 10 (with Mike McQuay)a futuristic disaster novelquestion the plausibility of Clarke's science, the privileging of scientific principles over plot development, and a pacing that is described alternately as taut and long-winded.

Quite possibly the most surprising novel of the 1990s was 3001: The Final Odyssey, supposedly the last of the Odyssey series. In this story, Frank Poole, long believed dead, is revived from a frozen state and is surprised to find the Europa monolith has absorbed Dave Bowman and HAL. Once again, critical opinion varies, as some view the narrative as reasonably written with thoughtful explorations of technology and Freudian theory, while others consider the novel's contemporary rendition of the once-transcendent monolith as an alien threat to be a disappointing treatment with few surprises.

Despite increasingly ill health, Clarke has continued to produce a voluminous literary output, often writing in collaboration with contemporary sf authors who grew up reading his early work. Indeed, after more than 50 novels, 35 non-fiction texts, 600 articles and short stories, numerous television scripts, and stints as a commentator during the Apollo moon landings, the Science Fiction Writers of America acknowledged Clarke's extensive contributions and continuing output and bestowed upon him Grand Master status in 1986. Armed with a scientific optimism and a cosmic, even transcendent, perception of humanity's role in an infinitely larger universe, Arthur C. Clarke is credited with helping revolutionize the sf genre from the Golden Age of the 1940s and 1950s through six decades of sf writing and into a new millennium that begins, as Clarke impatiently reiterates, in 2001.

Graham J. Murphy

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Arthur C. Clarke

Known as one of the modern masters of science fiction, English novelist Arthur C. Clarke (born 1917) created the immensely popular 2001 series, which became the basis for a classic film in 1968.

Arthur C. Clarke is the architect of some of the 20th Century's most enduring mythology. A futurist and science fiction writer, Clarke has penned over 600 articles and short stories, as well as dozens of novels and collections. His work has been translated into over 30 languages and adapted on television and in Hollywood movies, most notably in the classic 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. That Stanley Kubrick movie helped make Arthur C. Clarke an international celebrity. It won a whole new audience for his visionary tales about the possibilities of science and the wonders of space exploration, and solidified his reputation as one of the modern masters of science fiction.

Discovers Science Fiction Early

Arthur Charles Clarke was born on December 16, 1917 in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England. His parents, Charles Wright and Nora (Willis) Clarke, were farmers. Clarke was educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton, Somerset. He first began reading science fiction at the age of 12, when he first discovered the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. It soon became his principal passion. "During my lunch hour away from school I used to haunt the local Woolworth's in search of my fix," he told The New York Times Book Review, "which cost three pence a shot, roughly a quarter today."

As a teenager, Clarke began writing his own stories for a school magazine. When poverty forced him to drop out of school in 1936, he moved to London to work as a civil servant auditor for the British government. He kept up his interest in outer space by joining the British Interplanetary Society, an association of sci-fi hobbyists. He wrote articles on space exploration for the Society journal and got to know other science fiction writers and editors. He would later use these contacts to secure the publication of his first stories.

When World War II broke out, Clarke joined the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he worked as a radar instructor and earned the rank of flight-lieutenant. During this time, Clarke served as a technical officer on the first Ground Control Approach radar. In 1945, he wrote an article, "Extraterrestrial Relays," which proposed using satellites for communications, something which would become quite common in later years. After the war ended he returned to London and enrolled at King's College. He graduated in 1948 with a bachelor of science degree. His honor subjects were mathematics and physics.

Becomes Prominent Futurist

In 1946, Clarke became the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society. That spring saw the publication of his first two science fiction stories, "Loophole" and "Rescue Party" (both published in Amazing Science Fiction magazine). During this period, he often wrote under pen names, which included Charles Willis and E.G. O'Brien. His early stories were known for their tidy construction and sound scientific basis.

In 1949, Clarke returned to hard science, joining the staff of Physics Abstracts as its assistant editor. But he continued writing about outer space as well. His first novel, Prelude to Space was published in 1951. Another book, The Sands of Mars followed later that year. While many reviewers found the prose in these novels a bit stiff, they did offer an optimistic view of the potentials of science in the space age. Islands in the Sky (1952), about a boy in an orbiting space station, was another representative early book.

Sentinel of Things To Come

In 1952, Clarke received the International Fantasy Award for his early work. The next year, he published Expedition to Earth, a collection of short stories which included "The Sentinel." This tale, which involves the discovery by humans of a mysterious alien monolith, was to form the basis of the 1968 film and novelization 2001: A Space Odyssey. It also marked the introduction of metaphysical and religious themes into Clarke's work. Many readers saw "The Sentinel" as an allegory about man's search for God. Certainly it expressed Clarke's belief in the power of science in helping mankind understand the universe.

Clarke continued to explore these themes in his next two books. Against the Fall of Night (1953) follows a young protagonist in his attempts to escape from the controlled environment of a utopian city of the future. Childhood's End involves an attempt by aliens to tutor mankind in the ways of cosmic transcendence. Both stories so gripped Clarke's imagination that he spent many years revising and rewriting them under various titles. Both novels are highly conceptual and contain many mystical, visionary passages. They are considered two of his finest achievements and helped break new ground in the science fiction genre.

Man of Many Interests

Clarke maintained other interests during this fertile period as well. On June 15, 1953, he married Marilyn Mayfield. In 1954, he took the first the first step in what would become a lifelong effort to explore and photograph the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the coast of Sri Lanka. He took up residence in Sri Lanka (known at the time as Ceylon) in 1956. An avid skin diver, Clarke wrote many non-fiction books and articles about his experiences.

Clarke continued to write prolifically throughout the 1950s. His work came to embrace many topics that went beyond the conventions of genre science fiction. The Deep Range (1954) concerned the possibility of farming under the sea in the future, managing to combine Clarke's interests in science and underwater exploration. The Star (1955) was another powerful allegorical story about a star put in the sky by God to herald the birth of Jesus. It won a Hugo award, the science fiction community's highest honor.

In the 1960s, Clarke began to concentrate on non-fiction. His writings on the nature of science won him the UNESCO Kalinga Prize in 1962. In 1963, he published his first non-science fiction novel, Glide Path, about the origins of radar. As space travel became more reality than fiction, Clarke began to write and speak extensively on the subject. He became well-known around the world as a television commentator for CBS covering the Apollo 11, 12, and 15 missions.

Becomes an International Figure

Clarke's fame took a quantum leap with the release of Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This adaptation of Clarke's short story "The Sentinel" redefined science fiction filmmaking. It eschewed the cowboy conventions of earlier, Western-influenced movies about space exploration. Instead, 2001 followed Clarke's lead in using science fiction as a bridge to the consideration of mystical and religious themes. The limits of technology were also explored, in a scene where a space station's super computer, known as HAL 9000, goes berserk and attempts to kill its human users. The picture was a hit with moviegoers and made Clarke the most recognizable science fiction writer on the planet. He penned a novelization of the film which expanded upon the characters and themes contained in "The Sentinel."

Clarke used his newfound international celebrity to secure a lucrative new book contract. A collection of his non-fiction science writing, The Exploration of Space received the International Fantasy Award in 1972, A new novel, Rendezvous with Rama appeared in 1973. It explored many of the same themes as 2001 and was awarded all the major science fiction prizes. Imperial Earth: A Fantasy of Love and Discord (1975) got a decidedly mixed reception from critics. But Clarke bounced back with Fountains of Paradise (1979), which won the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Clarke disappointed many of his fans, however, when he announced it would be his last book of fiction.

Reneges on Promise

By 1982, despite his previous statements, Clarke was ready to write another novel. He produced a sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two, which was made into a popular film two years later. It was followed in 1986 by 2061: Odyssey Three, solidifying the "Sentinel" mythos into a full-blown series. Also in 1986, Clarke was the recipient of a Nebula Grand Master Award for his contributions to science fiction.

Now in his seventies and a certified living legend, Clarke showed no signs of slowing down. With help from co-author Gentry Lee, he produced sequels to Rendezvous with Rama in 1989, 1991, and 1994. In 1989, his memoir, Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography appeared. The entertaining account of his life contains many fascinating anecdotes about other writers Clarke had known. The solo novel The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990), about attempts to raise the Titanic in the near future, was dismissed by reviewers as too spare. But 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997) returned Clarke to familiar and beloved territory. The sprawling conclusion to the saga begun in "The Sentinel" some 45 years earlier read like a summation of the visionary writer's life and philosophy.

Clarke's critics have said his work lacks warmth, that he concentrated on science to the detriment of the "human element" that is so necessary to good fiction. But critics sympathetic to Clarke's viewpoint see in his work a vision that transcends the limitations of "nuts and bolts" sci-fi. That vision, wrote Eric S. Rabkin in his study Arthur C. Clarke, is "a humane and open and fundamentally optimistic view of humankind and its potential in a universe which dwarfs us in physical size but which we may hope some day to match in spirit."

Further Reading

Contemporary Authors, New Revisions, Volume 55, Gale, 1997.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nichols, St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Hollow, John, Against the Night, The Stars: The Science Fiction of Arthur C. Clarke, Harcourt Brace, 1983.

Rabkin, Eric S., Arthur C. Clarke, Starmont House, 1979.

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Clarke, Arthur C. (1917-)

Famous British science fiction author and technologist credited with originating the concept of communication satellites. Clarke has also presented two television series on paranormal phenomena. He was born December 16, 1917, in Minehead, Somersetshire, England, and was educated at King's College, University of London (B.Sc., 1948). He had previously been an auditor in the British Civil Service (1936-44) and a radar instructor in the Royal Air Force (1941-46), retiring as a flight lieutenant. After graduation he served as an assistant editor of Science Abstracts (1949-50). He began freelance writing in 1951 and has since turned out numerous nonfiction and science fiction books such as, Childhood's End, and Rendezvous with Rama. He was selected to chair the Second International Astronautics Congress in London, 1951.

Clarke has received many important awards for his science fiction writing and his scientific contributions, including the Stuart Ballantine Gold Medal from the Franklin Institute in 1963 for his concept of communications satellites, the Robert Ball Award from the Aviation-Space Writers Association in 1965 for best aerospace reporting of the year, and the Westinghouse Science Writing Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1969.

Clarke became internationally famous for his screenplay (with Stanley Kubrick) for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, which received the Second International Film Festival special award in 1969 and an Academy Award nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1969).

With such a background of scientific fact and fiction, Clarke's investigation of claimed paranormal phenomena was of special interest. He was coauthor with Simon Welfare and John Fairley of two important television series: Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (1980) and Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers (1984), both presented on British television and later aired on programs in the United States and other countries. The series was supported by books containing additional material not in the television programs. In both books and television programs, Clarke and his collaborators express a considerable skepticism, although granting a limited probability to certain claimed paranormal phenomena such as apparitions, maledictions, poltergeists, telepathy, stigmata, and fire walking. However, the great value of books and programs lay in the scrutiny of recent phenomena instead of simply a rehash of old material, and in the television programs rare early movie records of phenomena were shown together with recently filmed events. Both books and television programs therefore constitute a useful record of research, and even their skepticism is a healthy corrective to overcredulous writing and filming on the paranormal.


Clarke, Arthur C. Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography. New York: John Wiley, 1984.

. Childhood's End. New York: Ballantine, 1953.

. The Ghost from the Grand Banks. London: V. Gollancz, 1990.

. Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry Into the Limits of the Possible. New York: Holt Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.

. Rama Revealed. London, Gollancz and New York: Bantam, 1993.

. Rendezvous with Rama. London, Gollancz and New York: Harcourt Brace, 1973.

Fairley, John. Arthur Clarks' World of Strange Powers. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1984.

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Clarke, Arthur C.

British Science Fiction Writer 1917-

Born at Minehead, Somerset, United Kingdom, on December 17, 1917, Arthur C. Clarke was fascinated by science fiction and astronomy at an early age. In the 1930s he joined the British Interplanetary Society. After enlisting in the Royal Air Force in 1941, he became a radar instructor and participated in the development of ground-controlled landings of aircraft under zero-visibility conditions.

In 1945 the technical journal Wireless World published Clarke's article "Extra-Terrestrial Relays," which proposed the use of three broadcast satellites in equatorial orbit to provide worldwide communication. Clarke chose an orbital altitude of 35,786 kilometers (22,300 miles) because at that distance the angular velocity of Earth's rotation would match that of the satellite. As a result, the satellite would remained fixed in the sky. Twenty years later, Early Bird was launched, the first of the commercial satellites that provide global communications networks for telephone, television, and high-speed digital communication, including the Internet.

After World War II, Clarke obtained a bachelor of science degree in physics and mathematics at King's College, London. In 1954 he became enchanted by underwater scuba diving, which simulated weightlessness in spaceflight. In 1969 Clarke moved to Sri Lanka.

Clarke has written eighty books on science and technology, along with their sociological consequences.* He collaborated with the director Stanley Kubrick on the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which was based on his short story "The Sentinel." Clarke has received many honors and awards, including knighthood, the Franklin Institute Gold Medal, the UNESCO-Kalinga Prize, honorary fellow memberships and awards from major scientific and astronautical organizations, and a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.

Among Clarke's works are the following books:


  • Ascent to Orbit, a Scientific Autobiography: The Technical Writings of Arthur C. Clarke. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1984.
  • Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography. New York: Bantam, 1989.
  • The Exploration of Space. New York: Harper, 1951.
  • Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!: Collected Essays, 1934-1998. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
  • How the World Was One: Beyond the Global Village. New York: Bantam, 1992.
  • The Making of a Moon: The Story of the Earth Satellite Program. New York: Harper, 1957.
  • Profiles of the Future: An Inquiry into the Limits of the Possible. New York: Harper, 1962.
  • The Promise of Space. New York: Harper, 1968.
  • Voices from the Sky: Previews of the Coming Space Age. New York:Harper, 1965.


  • Childhood's End. New York: Ballantine, 1953.
  • The Fountains of Paradise. New York: Harcourt, 1979.
  • The Hammer of God. New York: Bantam, 1993.
  • Islands in the Sky. Philadelphia: Winston, 1952.
  • Rendezvous with Rama. New York: Harcourt, 1973.
  • The Sands of Mars. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1951.
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey. New York: New American Library, 1968.
  • 2010: Odyssey Two. New York: Ballantine, 1982.
  • 2061: Odyssey Three. New York: Ballantine, 1988.
  • 3001: Final Odyssey. New York: Ballantine, 1997.

see also Careers in Writing, Photography, and Filmmaking (volume 1); Communications Satellite Industry (volume 1); Entertainment (volume 1); Science Fiction (volume 4).

Frederick C. Durant III


Clute, John, and Peter Nicholls, eds. Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. New York: St.Martin's Press, 1995.

McAleer, Neil. Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1992.

*Clarke once said that his chief aim was an old science fiction cliché: "The search for wonder."

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Clarke, Arthur C. 1917–2008

(Arthur Clarke, Arthur Charles Clarke, E.G. O'Brien, Charles Willis)


See index for SATA sketch: Born December 16, 1917, in Minehead, Somersetshire (now Somerset), England; died of respiratory complications, March 19, 2008, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Novelist, short-story writer, science writer, screenwriter, essayist, broadcaster, underwater explorer, and author. Clarke turned a childhood fascination with science, quasi-science, and science fiction into an immensely successful career as a writer and broadcaster. He earned dozens of awards along the way and prompted many to classify him as one of the most prolific scientific prophets of the twentieth century. Because so many of his predictions came true, he was also regarded as one of the most prescient seers of his age. Clarke was respected equally as a science writer and a science fiction writer, and he alternated between genres, publishing more than one hundred books in his career. One of his earliest predictions came in 1945 when he postulated a universal network of telecommunication satellites in a fixed orbit above the earth. The Syncom II became a reality in 1963, and about twenty years later Clarke was awarded a Marconi international fellowship and a special Emmy Award for contributions to satellite broadcasting. In 1951 he published the popular nonfiction book The Exploration of Space, which, somewhat surprisingly, won an International Fantasy Award. Many more such works would follow. Clarke wrote dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories. An early success was the novel Childhood's End (1953), which explored a theme that would thread its way through many of his writings: humankind is only one step in an evolutionary process that began when an ape picked up a tool and will continue until the human consciousness no longer requires a physical, earth-bound body to sustain it. The same theme came stunningly to life fifteen years later in Clarke's seminal collaboration with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick2001: A Space Odyssey. To many fans, despite an elusive story line, it ranks as one of the greatest science-fiction films ever made. Clarke moved smoothly into the medium of television as the host of popular series like Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (1980), and he appeared as an amiable and popular lecturer at universities and public venues around the world. Having settled in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in the 1950s, he became affiliated with academic centers there, such as the Arthur C. Clarke Centre for Modern Technologies and the University of Moratuwa. In Sri Lanka, Clarke also came as close as he could to the-weightlessness of outer space when he became a seri- ous underwater explorer. He owned a diving business, Underwater Safaris, from 1984 until his death. He wrote several books on his underwater world, including The Reefs of Taprobane: Underwater Adventures around Ceylon (1957). Clarke's later years were hampered by declining health, but he stayed active. He remained optimistic about the terrestrial and extraterrestrial future of mankind, as revealed in The Snows of Olympus: A Garden on Mars (1995). He finished a final science-fiction novel, The Last Theorem, only days before his death. Clarke's multitude of honors include a telecommunications satellite, an asteroid, a dinosaur, and another satellite named in his honor, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination, and prizes from virtually every prominent scientific organization and science fiction society in the English-speaking world. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998.



Clarke, Arthur C., The View from Serendip, Random House (New York, NY), 1977.

Clarke, Arthur C., Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography; The Technical Writings of Arthur C. Clarke, Wiley (New York, NY), 1984.

Clarke, Arthur C., Astounding Days: A Science-Fictional Autobiography, Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.

Contemporary Novelists, 7th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Chicago Tribune, March 19, 2008, sec. 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2008, pp. A1, A12.

New York Times, March 19, 2008, p. C12.

Times (London, England), March 20, 2008, p. 76.

Washington Post, March 19, 2008, p. B7.

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CLARKE, Arthur C(harles)

CLARKE, Arthur C(harles). British, b. 1917. Genres: Science fiction/Fantasy, Air/Space topics, Astronomy, Marine sciences/Oceanography, Travel/Exploration, Novellas/Short stories. Career: Engaged in underwater exploration and photography of the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the coast of Ceylon, 1954-. Assistant Auditor, Exchequer and Audit Dept., London, 1936-41; Assistant Ed., Physics Abstracts, London, 1949-50; Chancellor, Univ of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, 1979-2002; has made numerous radio and TV appearances, and has lectured widely in Britain and the U.S.; Commentator, for CBS-TV, on lunar landing flights of Apollo 11, 12, and 15. Publications: FICTION: Prelude to Space: The Sands of Mars, 1951; Islands in the Sky, 1952; Against the Fall of Night, 1953; Childhood's End, 1953; Earthlight, 1955; The City and the Stars, 1956; The Deep Range, 1957; Across the Sea of Stars, 1962; Dolphin Island, 1963; Glide Path, 1963; Prelude to Mars, 1965; An Arthur C. Clarke Omnibus, 1965; 2001: A Space Odyssey (novel and screenplay), 1968; An Arthur C. Clarke Second Omnibus, 1968; The Lion of Comarre, 1970; Rendezvous with Rama, 1972; Imperial Earth, 1975; The Fountains of Paradise, 1979; 2010: Odyssey Two, 1982; The Songs of Distant Earth, 1986; A Fall of Moondust, 1987; 2061: Odyssey Three, 1988; (with G. Lee) Cradle, 1988; (with G. Lee) Rama II, 1989; The Ghost from the Grand Banks, 1990; (with G. Lee) The Garden of Rama, 1991; The Hammer of God, 1993; (with G. Lee) Rama Revealed, 1994; (with M. McQuary) Richter 10, 1996; 3001: The Final Odyssey, 1997; Trigger, 1999. SHORT STORIES: Expedition to Earth, 1953; Reach for Tomorrow, 1956; Tales of White Hart, 1957; The Other Side of the Sky, 1958; Tales of Ten Worlds, 1962; The Nine Billion Names of God: The Best Short Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, 1967; The Wind from the Sun, 1972; Of Time and Stars, 1972; The Best of Arthur C. Clarke 1937-1971, 1973; The Sentinel, 1983; Tales from Planet Earth, 1989; More Than One Universe, 1990. NON-FICTION: Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics, 1950; The Exploration of Space, 1951; The Young Traveler in Space (in U.S. as Going into Space), 1954, rev. ed. (with R. Silverberg) as Into Space: A Young Person's Guide to Space, 1971; (with R.A. Smith) The Exploration of the Moon, 1954; The Coast of Coral, 1956; The Making of a Moon: The Story of the Earth Satellite Program, 1957; The Reefs of Taprobane: Underwater Adventures around Ceylon, 1957; Voice across the Sea, 1958; (with M. Wilson) Boy beneath the Sea, 1958; The Challenge of the Spaceship, 1959; (with M. Wilson) The First Five Fathoms, 1960; The Challenge of the Sea, 1960; (with M. Wilson) Indian Ocean Adventure, 1961; Profiles of the Future, 1962; The Treasure of the Great Reef, 1964; (with M. Wilson) Indian Ocean Treasure, 1964; (with eds. of Life) Man and Space, 1964; Voices from the Sky, 1965; The Promise of Space, 1968; (co-author) First on the Moon, 1970; Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations, 1972; The Lost Worlds of 2001, 1972; (with C. Bonestell) Beyond Jupiter, 1972; (co-author) Technology and the Frontiers of Knowledge (lectures), 1975; The Best of Arthur C. Clarke, 2 vols., 1977; The View from Serendip, 1978; 1984: Spring: A Choice of Futures, 1984; Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography: The Technical Writings of Arthur C. Clarke, 1984; (with P. Hyams) The Odyssey File, 1985; July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century, 1986; How the World Was One, 1992; By Space Possessed, 1993; The Snows of Olympus: A Garden on Mars; Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!, 1999; Collected Stories, 2001. EDITOR: Time Probe, 1966; The Coming of the Space Age, 1967. Address: 25 Barnes Place, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka.

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Clarke, Arthur C. ( Charles) (1917– ) English science- fiction writer. He is noted for the scientific realism of his works, such as Childhood's End (1953), A Fall of Moondust (1961) and Voices from the Sky (1965). Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969) was based on his short story The Sentinel (1951). Clarke has since written two sequels – 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) and 2061: Odyssey Three (1987).