Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (born December 16, 1917) is a British author and inventor, probably most famous for his science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey which was written concurrently with the film version by Stanley Kubrick. It is loosely inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", but it became its own novel while he was collaborating on a screenplay with Kubrick. Kubrick approached Clarke about writing a novel for the express purpose of making "the proverbial good science-fiction movie", and the novel was still being written while the film was being made. This resulted in one of the truly unique collaborations in media history.
He has written numerous other books, including the Rama novels and several sequels to 2001, and many short stories.
Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England, and as a boy enjoyed stargazing and enthusiastically read old American science fiction magazines (many of which made their way to England as ballast in ships). After secondary school, he was unable to afford university and consequently acquired a job as an auditor in the pensions section of the Board of Education.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defense system which contributed to the Royal Air Force's success during the Battle of Britain. After the war, he obtained a first class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College, London.
His most important contribution may be the conception that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He proposed this concept in a scientific paper titled "Extra-Terrestrial Relays - Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?", published in Wireless World in October 1945. The geostationary orbit is now known as the Clarke orbit in his honour.
In the early 1940s, while he was in the RAF, Clarke began selling his science fiction stories to magazines. Clarke worked briefly as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951. He has been chairman of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the Underwater Explorers Club .
He has lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 1956, immigrating when it was still called Ceylon. This inspired the locale for his novel, The Fountains of Paradise, in which he describes a space elevator. This, he figures, will ultimately be his legacy, more so than geostationary satellites, once space elevators make space shuttles obsolete.
Early in his career, Clarke had a fascination with the paranormal, and has stated that it was part of the inspiration for his novel Childhood's End. He has also said that he was one of several who were fooled by a Uri Geller demonstration at Birkbeck College. Although he has long since dismissed and distanced himself from most pseudo-science, he still advocates for research into purported instances of telekinesis and other similar phenomena.
In 1988 he was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome and has since been confined to a wheel-chair.
His knighthood was first announced in 1998, but then the British tabloid The Sunday Mirror published accusations of paedophilia against him (). The award was delayed while the allegations were investigated, although by 2000 the BBC reported that he had been "cleared" (). Clarke's health did not allow him to travel to London to receive the honour personally from the Queen, so the UK High Commissioner to Sri Lanka awarded him the title of Knight Bachelor at a ceremony in Colombo.
A partial list of his (some co-authored) fiction books in chronological order:
- Prelude to Space (1951)
- The Sands of Mars (1951)
- Islands in the Sky (1952)
- Against the Fall of Night (1953)
- Childhood's End (1953)
- Expedition to Earth (1953) [short story collection]
- Earthlight (1955)
- Reach for Tomorrow (1956) [short story collection]
- The City and the Stars (1956)
- Tales from the White Hart (1957) [short story collection]
- The Deep Range (1957)
- The Other Side of the Sky (1958) [short story collection]
- Across the Sea of Stars (1959) [Childhood's End + Earthlight + 18 short stories]
- A Fall of Moondust (1961)
- From the Ocean, From the Stars (1962) [The City and the Stars + The Deep Range + The Other Side of the Sky]
- Tales of Ten Worlds (1962) [short story collection]
- Dolphin Island (1963)
- Glide Path (1963)
- An Arthur C. Clarke Omnibus (1965) [Childhood's End + Prelude to Space + Expedition to Earth]
- Prelude to Mars (1965) [Prelude to Space + The Sands of Mars]
- The Nine Billion Names of God (1967) [short story collection]
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- An Arthur C. Clarke Second Omnibus (1968) [A Fall of Moondust + Earthlight + The Sands of Mars]
- The Lion of Comarre & Against the Fall of Night (1968)
- Of Time and Stars (1972) [short story collection]
- The Wind from the Sun (1972) [short story collection]
- Rendezvous with Rama (1973)
- The Best of Arthur C. Clarke (1973) [short story collection]
- Imperial Earth (1975)
- Four Great SF Novels (1978) [The City and the Stars + The Deep Range + A Fall of Moondust + Rendezvous with Rama]
- The Fountains of Paradise (1979)
- 2010: Odyssey Two (1982)
- The Sentinel (1983) [short story collection]
- The Songs of Distant Earth (1986)
- 2061: Odyssey Three (1988)
- A Meeting With Medusa (1988)
- Cradle (1988) (co-authored with Gentry Lee )
- Rama II (1989) (co-authored with Gentry Lee )
- Beyond the Fall of Night (1990) (co-authored with Gregory Benford)
- Tales From Planet Earth (1990) [short story collection]
- The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990)
- More Than One Universe (1991) [short story collection]
- The Garden of Rama (1991) (co-authored with Gentry Lee )
- Rama Revealed (1993) (co-authored with Gentry Lee )
- The Hammer of God (1993)
- Richter 10 (1996) (co-authored with Mike McQuay )
- 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)
- The Trigger (1999) (co-authored with Michael P. Kube-McDowell)
- The Light of Other Days (2000) (co-authored with Stephen Baxter)
- The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (2000) [short story collection]
- Time's Eye (2004) (co-authored with Stephen Baxter)
Apart from his fiction, Clarke has written two autobiographies. Ascent to Orbit is what he calls his scientific autobiography and Astounding Days his science fictional autobiography. Since Clarke has led a very full and interesting life, both books contain much of interest.
Clarke's email correspondence with Peter Hyams, director of the film 2010: Odyssey Two, was published in 1984. Entitled , and co-authored with Hyams, it illustrates his fascination with the then pioneering medium and its use for them to communicate on an almost daily basis at the time of planning and production of the film. The book also includes Clarke's list of the best science fiction films ever made.
Most of his essays (between 1934 to 1998) can be found in the book Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (2000). Most of his short stories can be found in the book The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (2001). They make a good collection of Clarke's non-fiction and fiction works, even for those who already have most of his books. Another collection of early essays were published in The View from Serendip (1977), which also included one short piece of fiction, When the Twerms Came . He has also written short stories under the pseudonyms of E. G. O'Brien and Charles Willis.
- Clarke's three laws
- science fiction: authors – novels – short stories – television shows
- Arthur C. Clarke's list of the best science fiction films
- Arthur C. Clarke quotes at Wikiquote
- Interview for The Onion (February 2004)
- The Motif of First Contact in Arthur C. Clarke's SF Works, by Zoran Zivkovic
- Sir Arthur C. Clarke links at MysteryVisits.com
- Clarke image archive at MysteryVisits.com
- 2000 Photo
- Institute for Cooperation in Space
- The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation
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