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Sir Arthur C. Clarke
|Born||16 December 1917|
Minehead, Somerset, England, UK
|Died||19 March 2008 (aged 90)|
Colombo, Sri Lanka
|Pen name||Charles Willis|
E. G. O'Brien
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Period||1946–2008 (professional fiction writer)|
|Genre||Hard science fiction|
|Spouse||Marilyn Mayfield (1953–1964)|
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
|Born||16 December 1917|
Minehead, Somerset, England, UK
|Died||19 March 2008 (aged 90)|
Colombo, Sri Lanka
|Pen name||Charles Willis|
E. G. O'Brien
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Period||1946–2008 (professional fiction writer)|
|Genre||Hard science fiction|
|Spouse||Marilyn Mayfield (1953–1964)|
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS (Sri Lankabhimanya Arthur Charles Clarke) (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host.
He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, considered by the American Film Institute to be one of the most influential films of all time. His other science fiction writings earned him a number of Hugo and Nebula awards, along with a large readership, making him into one of the towering figures of the field. For many years he, along with Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction.
Clarke was a lifelong proponent of space travel. In 1934 while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, he proposed a satellite communication system—an idea that, in 1963, won him the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.
Clarke was also a science writer, who was both an avid populariser of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability, who won a Kalinga Prize (award given by UNESCO for popularising science) in 1961. These all together eventually earned him the moniker "prophet of the space age".
Clarke augmented his fame later on in the 1980s, by being the host of several television shows such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.
Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England and grew up in nearby Bishops Lydeard. As a boy, he grew up on a farm enjoying stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines. After secondary education at Huish Grammar school in Taunton, after moving to London in 1936 he joined the Board of Education as a pensions auditor.
During World War II from 1941 to 1946 he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar, as documented in the semi-autobiographical Glide Path, his only non-science-fiction novel. Although GCA did not see much practical use during the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a corporal instructor on radar at No. 2 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (Technical Branch) on 27 May 1943. He was promoted Flying Officer on 27 November 1943. He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley in Warwickshire and was demobilised with the rank of flight lieutenant.
After the war he earned a first-class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London, with honours. After this he worked as Assistant Editor at Physics Abstracts. Clarke then served as Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946 to 1947 and again from 1951 to 1953.
Although he was not the originator of the concept of geostationary satellites, one of his most important contributions may be his idea that they would be ideal telecommunications relays. He advanced this idea in a paper privately circulated among the core technical members of the BIS in 1945. The concept was published in Wireless World in October of that year. Clarke also wrote a number of non-fiction books describing the technical details and societal implications of rocketry and space flight. The most notable of these may be The Exploration of Space (1951) and The Promise of Space (1968). In recognition of these contributions the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) above the equator is officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union as a Clarke Orbit.
On a trip to Florida in 1953 Clarke met and quickly married Marilyn Mayfield, a 22-year-old American divorcee with a young son. They separated permanently after six months, although the divorce was not finalised until 1964. "The marriage was incompatible from the beginning", says Clarke. Clarke never remarried, but was close to a Sri Lankan man, Leslie Ekanayake, whom the author called his "only perfect friend of a lifetime" in his dedication to The Fountains of Paradise. Clarke is buried with Ekanayake, who predeceased him by three decades, in the Colombo central cemetery. In his biography of Stanley Kubrick, John Baxter cites Clarke's homosexuality as a reason why he relocated, due to more tolerant laws with regard to homosexuality in Sri Lanka. Journalists who enquired of Clarke whether he was gay were told, "No, merely mildly cheerful." However, Michael Moorcock has written:
Everyone knew he was gay. In the 1950s I'd go out drinking with his boyfriend. We met his protégés, western and eastern, and their families, people who had only the most generous praise for his kindness. Self-absorbed he might be, and a teetotaller, but an impeccable gent through and through.
In an interview in the July 1986 issue of Playboy magazine, Clarke stated "Of course. Who hasn't?" when asked if he had had bisexual experience. In his obituary, Clarke's friend Kerry O'Quinn wrote : "Yes, Arthur was gay ... As Isaac Asimov once told me, 'I think he simply found he preferred men.' Arthur didn't publicize his sexuality – that wasn't the focus of his life – but if asked, he was open and honest."
Clarke maintained a vast collection of manuscripts and personal memoirs, maintained by his brother Fred Clarke in Taunton, Somerset, England, and referred to as the "Clarkives." Clarke said that some of his private diaries will not be published until 30 years after his death. When asked why they were sealed, he answered "Well, there might be all sorts of embarrassing things in them."
Clarke lived in Sri Lanka from 1956 until his death in 2008, having emigrated there when it was still called Ceylon, first in Unawatuna on the south coast, and then in Colombo. The Sri Lankan government offered Clarke resident guest status in 1975.
In the early 1970s Clarke signed a three-book publishing deal, a record for a science-fiction writer at the time. The first of the three was Rendezvous with Rama in 1973, which won all the main genre awards and spawned sequels that, with the 2001 series, formed the backbone of his later career.
In a 1974 taped interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the interviewer asked Clarke how he believed the computer would change the future for the everyday person, and what life would be like around the year 2001. Clarke accurately predicted many things that became reality, including online banking, online shopping, and other now commonplace things. Responding to a question about how the interviewer's son's life would be different, Clarke responded: "[H]e will have, in his own house, not a computer as big as this, [points to nearby computer], but at least, a console through which he can talk, through his local computer and get all the information he needs, for his everyday life, like his bank statements, his theatre reservations, all the information you need in the course of living in our complex modern society, this will be in a compact form in his own house ... and he will take it as much for granted as we take the telephone."
In the 1980s Clarke became well known to many for his television programmes Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World, Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers and Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe. In 1986 he was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. In 1988 he was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome, having originally contracted polio in 1962, and needed to use a wheelchair most of the time thereafter. Clarke was for many years a Vice Patron of the British Polio Fellowship.
In the 1989 Queen's Birthday Honours Clarke was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) "for services to British cultural interests in Sri Lanka". The same year he became the first Chancellor of the International Space University, serving from 1989 to 2004 and he also served as Chancellor of Moratuwa University in Sri Lanka from 1979 to 2002.
In 1994, Clarke appeared in a science fiction film; he portrayed himself in the telefilm Without Warning, an American production about an apocalyptic alien first contact scenario presented in the form of a faux newscast. Clarke also became active in promoting the preservation of gorillas and became a patron of the Gorilla Organization which fights for the preservation of gorillas. When tantalum mining for cell phone manufacture threatened the gorillas in 2001, he lent his voice to their cause.
On 26 May 2000 he was made a Knight Bachelor "for services to literature" at a ceremony in Colombo. The award of a knighthood had been announced in the 1998 New Year Honours, but investiture with the award had been delayed, at Clarke's request, because of an accusation, by the British tabloid The Sunday Mirror, of paedophilia. The charge was subsequently found to be baseless by the Sri Lankan police. According to The Daily Telegraph (London), the Mirror subsequently published an apology, and Clarke chose not to sue for defamation. Clarke was then duly knighted.
Although he and his home were unharmed by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake tsunami, his "Arthur C. Clarke Diving School" at Hikkaduwa was destroyed. He made humanitarian appeals, and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation worked towards better disaster notification systems. The school has since been rebuilt.
In September 2007, he provided a video greeting for NASA's Cassini probe's flyby of Iapetus (which plays an important role in the book of 2001: A Space Odyssey). In December 2007 on his 90th birthday, Clarke recorded a video message to his friends and fans bidding them good-bye.
Clarke died in Sri Lanka on 19 March 2008 after suffering from respiratory failure, according to Rohan de Silva, one of his aides. His aide described the cause as respiratory complications and heart failure stemming from post-polio syndrome.
Just hours before Clarke's death, and remarkably fortuitous in coincidence, a massive gamma-ray burst (GRB) reached Earth. Known as GRB 080319B, the burst set a new record as the farthest object that could been seen from Earth with the naked eye. Occurring about 7.5 billion years ago and taking the light that long to reach Earth is rough in equality to half the time since the Big Bang. It was suggested by Larry Sessions (of http://earthsky.org/) that the burst be named "the Clarke Event".
A few days before he died, he had reviewed the manuscript of his final work, The Last Theorem, on which he had collaborated by e-mail with his contemporary Frederik Pohl. The book was published after Clarke's death. Clarke was buried in Colombo in traditional Sri Lankan fashion on 22 March. His younger brother, Fred Clarke, and his Sri Lankan adoptive family were among the thousands in attendance.
While Clarke had a few stories published in fanzines, between 1937 and 1945, his first professional sale appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946: "Loophole" was published in April, while "Rescue Party", his first sale, was published in May.[a] Along with his writing Clarke briefly worked as assistant editor of Science Abstracts (1949) before devoting himself in 1951 to full-time writing. Clarke also contributed to the Dan Dare series published in Eagle, and his first three published novels were written for children.
Clarke corresponded with C. S. Lewis in the 1940s and 1950s and they once met in an Oxford pub, The Eastgate, to discuss science fiction and space travel. Clarke voiced great praise for Lewis upon his death, saying that the Ransom trilogy was one of the few works of science fiction that should be considered literature.
In 1948 he wrote "The Sentinel" for a BBC competition. Though the story was rejected, it changed the course of Clarke's career. Not only was it the basis for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but "The Sentinel" also introduced a more cosmic element to Clarke's work. Many of Clarke's later works feature a technologically advanced but still-prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. In the cases of The City and the Stars (and its original version, Against the Fall of Night), Childhood's End, and the 2001 series, this encounter produces a conceptual breakthrough that accelerates humanity into the next stage of its evolution. In Clarke's authorised biography, Neil McAleer writes that: "many readers and critics still consider [Childhood's End] Arthur C. Clarke's best novel."
Almost all of his short stories can be found in the book The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (2001).
A collection of early essays was published in The View from Serendip (1977), which also included one short piece of fiction, "When the Twerms Came". Clarke also wrote short stories under the pseudonyms of E. G. O'Brien and Charles Willis.
For much of the later 20th century, Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein were informally known as the "Big Three" of science fiction writers. Clarke and Heinlein began writing to each other after The Exploration of Space was published in 1951, and first met in person the following year. They remained on cordial terms for many years, including visits in the United States and Sri Lanka. In 1984, Clarke testified before Congress against the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Later, at the home of Larry Niven in California, Heinlein attacked Clarke verbally over his views on United States foreign and space policy (especially the SDI). Although the two reconciled formally, they remained distant until Heinlein's death in 1988.
Clarke and Asimov first met in New York City in 1953, and they traded friendly insults and gibes for decades. They established a verbal agreement, the "Clarke–Asimov Treaty", that when asked who was best, the two would say Clarke was the best science fiction writer and Asimov was the best science writer. In 1972, Clarke put the "treaty" on paper in his dedication to Report on Planet Three and Other Speculations.
2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke's most famous work, was extended well beyond the 1968 movie as the Space Odyssey series. In 1982, Clarke wrote a sequel to 2001 titled 2010: Odyssey Two, which was made into a film in 1984. Clarke wrote two further sequels that have not been adapted into motion pictures: 2061: Odyssey Three (published in 1987) and 3001: The Final Odyssey (published in 1997). In 2010, we find out that the original home of the astronaut Dave Bowman was in Florida, the location of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and that was a source of his interest in spaceflight.
In the year 2061, Halley's Comet will make its next plunge through the Inner Solar System. Clarke used that for the event of an expedition that takes Dr. Heywood Floyd, who owed his long life to living in a space hospital since shortly after the events of 2010, and scores of others to visit this comet. In the meantime a space ship in which Floyd's grandson is a crew member is hijacked and forced to crash on the Jovian moon Europa. There, Floyd's grandson and the others discover the whereabouts of astronaut Dave Bowman (the "Star Child"), the artificial intelligence HAL 9000, and the native life of Europa that had been protected by the alien Monolith in orbit around Jupiter.
Finally, in 3001: The Final Odyssey, Clarke returned to the Solar System of one millennium after 2001. It turns out that the astronaut Frank Poole had not been killed outside the spaceship Discovery One after all. Instead, his body had been freeze-dried in the vacuum of outer space, and then it had made a close fly-by of Jupiter. It was cast into deep space by the gravitational interaction with that huge planet, and over a period of 1000 years, it has flown beyond the orbit of Neptune. Poole's body is found by another (human) spaceship in about the year 3001, and by that time medical science had advanced enough that he could be revived. Poole is returned to the Earth, and then most of the rest of the novel is about his experiences in finding out about the Planet Earth of 3001. We also find out that Poole is a native of the city of Flagstaff, Arizona, and that he became interested in astronautics and outer space because of his boyhood visits to the Lowell Observatory there.
Clarke's first venture into film was the Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick and Clarke had met in New York City in 1964 to discuss the possibility of a collaborative film project. As the idea developed, they decided to loosely base the story on Clarke's short story, The Sentinel, written in 1948 as an entry in a BBC short story competition. Originally, Clarke was going to write the screenplay for the film, but Kubrick suggested during one of their brainstorming meetings that before beginning on the actual script, they should let their imaginations soar free by writing a novel first, on which they would base the film. "This is more or less the way it worked out, though toward the end, novel and screenplay were being written simultaneously, with feedback in both directions. Thus I rewrote some sections after seeing the movie rushes—a rather expensive method of literary creation, which few other authors can have enjoyed." The novel ended up being published a few months after the release of the movie.
Due to the hectic schedule of the film's production, Kubrick and Clarke had difficulty collaborating on the book. Clarke completed a draft of the novel at the end of 1964 with the plan to publish in 1965 in advance of the film's release in 1966. After many delays the film was released in the spring of 1968, before the book was completed. The book was credited to Clarke alone. Clarke later complained that this had the effect of making the book into a novelisation, that Kubrick had manipulated circumstances to downplay Clarke's authorship. For these and other reasons, the details of the story differ slightly from the book to the movie. The film contains little explanation for the events taking place. Clarke, on the other hand, wrote thorough explanations of "cause and effect" for the events in the novel. James Randi later recounted that upon seeing the premiere of 2001 for the first time, Clarke left the theatre in tears, at the intermission, after having watched an eleven-minute scene (which did not make it into general release) where an astronaut is doing nothing more than jogging inside the spaceship, which was Kubrick's idea of showing the audience how boring space travels could be.
In 1972, Clarke published The Lost Worlds of 2001, which included his accounts of the production, and alternate versions, of key scenes. The "special edition" of the novel A Space Odyssey (released in 1999) contains an introduction by Clarke in which he documents the events leading to the release of the novel and film.
In 1982 Clarke continued the 2001 epic with a sequel, 2010: Odyssey Two. This novel was also made into a film, 2010, directed by Peter Hyams for release in 1984. Because of the political environment in America in the 1980s, the film presents a Cold War theme, with the looming tensions of nuclear warfare not featured in the novel. The film was not considered to be as revolutionary or artistic as 2001, but the reviews were still positive.
Clarke's email correspondence with Hyams was published in 1984. Titled The Odyssey File: The Making of 2010, and co-authored with Hyams, it illustrates his fascination with the then-pioneering medium of email and its use for them to communicate on an almost daily basis at the time of planning and production of the film while living on opposite sides of the world. The book also included Clarke's personal list of the best science-fiction films ever made.
Clarke appeared in the film, first as the man feeding the pigeons while Dr. Heywood Floyd is engaged in a conversation in front of the White House. Later, in the hospital scene with David Bowman's mother, an image of the cover of Time portrays Clarke as the American President and Kubrick as the Soviet Premier.
Clarke's award-winning novel Rendezvous with Rama (1972) was optioned for filmmaking decades ago, but this motion picture is in "development hell" as of 2014. In the early 2000s, the actor Morgan Freeman expressed his desire to produce a movie based on Rendezvous with Rama. After a drawn-out development process – which Freeman attributed to difficulties in getting financing – it appeared that in 2003 this project might be proceeding, but this is very dubious. The film was to be produced by Freeman's production company, Revelations Entertainment, and David Fincher has been touted on Revelations' Rama web page as far back as 2001 as the film's director. After years of no progress, Fincher stated in an interview in late 2007 (in which he also credited the novel as being influential on the films Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture) that he is still attached to helm. Revelations indicated that Stel Pavlou had written the adaptation.
In late 2008, Fincher stated the movie is unlikely to be made. "It looks like it's not going to happen. There's no script and as you know, Morgan Freeman's not in the best of health right now. We've been trying to do it but it's probably not going to happen." However, in 2010 it was announced that the film was still planned for future production and both Freeman and Fincher mentioned it as still needing a worthy script.
During his life Clarke published a number of non-fiction books with essays, speeches, addresses, etc. Several of his non-fiction books are composed of chapters that can stand on their own as separate essays.
In particular, Clarke was a populariser of the concept of space travel. In 1950 he wrote Interplanetary Flight, a book outlining the basics of space flight for laymen. Later books about space travel included The Challenge of the Spaceship (1959), Voices from the Sky (1965), The Promise of Space (1968, rev. ed. 1970) and Report on Planet Three (1972) among others.
His books on space travel usually included chapters about other aspects of science and technology, such as computers and bioengineering.
His many predictions culminated in 1958 when he began a series of magazine essays that eventually became Profiles of the Future, published in book form in 1962.  A timetable up to the year 2100 describes inventions and ideas including such things as a "global library" for 2005. The same work also contained "Clarke's First Law" and text that became Clarke's three laws in later editions.
In a 1959 essay Clarke predicted global satellite TV broadcasts that would cross national boundaries indiscriminately and would bring hundreds of channels available anywhere in the world. He also envisioned a "personal transceiver, so small and compact that every man carries one." He wrote: "the time will come when we will be able to call a person anywhere on Earth merely by dialing a number." Such a device would also, in Clarke's vision, include means for global positioning so that "no one need ever again be lost." Later, in Profiles of the Future, he predicted the advent of such a device taking place in the mid-1980s.
An extensive selection of Clarke's essays and book chapters (from 1934 to 1998; 110 pieces, 63 of them previously uncollected in his books) can be found in the book Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (2000), together with a new introduction and many prefatory notes. Another fine collection of essays, all previously collected, is By Space Possessed (1993). Clarke's technical papers, together with several essays and extensive autobiographical material, are collected in Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography (1984).
Clarke was an avid scuba diver and a member of the Underwater Explorers Club. In addition to writing, Clarke set up several diving-related ventures with his business partner Mike Wilson. In 1956, while scuba diving, Wilson and Clarke uncovered ruined masonry, architecture and idol images of the sunken original Koneswaram temple – including carved columns with flower insignias, and stones in the form of elephant heads – spread on the shallow surrounding seabed. Other discoveries included Chola bronzes from the original shrine, and these discoveries were described in Clarke's 1957 book The Reefs of Taprobane. In 1961, while filming off Great Basses Reef, Wilson found a wreck and retrieved silver coins. Plans to dive on the wreck the following year were stopped when Clarke developed paralysis, ultimately diagnosed as polio. A year later, Clarke observed the salvage from the shore and the surface. The ship, ultimately identified as belonging to the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, yielded fused bags of silver rupees, cannons, and other artefacts, carefully documented, became the basis for The Treasure of the Great Reef. Living in Sri Lanka and learning its history also inspired the backdrop for his novel The Fountains of Paradise in which he described a space elevator. This, he believed, would make rocket based access to space obsolete and, more than geostationary satellites, would ultimately be his scientific legacy.
Clarke contributed to the popularity of the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He first described this in a letter to the editor of Wireless World in February 1945 and elaborated on this concept in a paper titled Extra-Terrestrial Relays – Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?, published in Wireless World in October 1945. The geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke Orbit or the Clarke Belt in his honour.
It is not clear that this article was actually the inspiration for the modern telecommunications satellite. According to John R. Pierce, of Bell Labs, who was involved in the Echo satellite and Telstar projects, he gave a talk upon the subject in 1954 (published in 1955), using ideas that were "in the air", but was not aware of Clarke's article at the time. In an interview given shortly before his death, Clarke was asked whether he had ever suspected that one day communications satellites would become so important; he replied
I'm often asked why I didn't try to patent the idea of communications satellites. My answer is always, "A patent is really a license to be sued."
Though different from Clarke's idea of telecom relay, the idea of communicating with satellites in geostationary orbit itself had been described earlier. For example, the concept of geostationary satellites was described in Hermann Oberth's 1923 book Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space) and then the idea of radio communication with those satellites in Herman Potočnik's (written under the pseudonym Hermann Noordung) 1928 book Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums – der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel — The Rocket Motor), sections: Providing for Long Distance Communications and Safety[b] and (possibly referring to the idea of relaying messages via satellite, but not that 3 would be optimal) Observing and Researching the Earth's Surface published in Berlin.[c] Clarke acknowledged the earlier concept in his book Profiles of the Future.
Themes of religion and spirituality appear in much of Clarke's writing. He said: "Any path to knowledge is a path to God—or Reality, whichever word one prefers to use." He described himself as "fascinated by the concept of God". J. B. S. Haldane, near the end of his life, suggested in a personal letter to Clarke that Clarke should receive a prize in theology for being one of the few people to write anything new on the subject, and went on to say that if Clarke's writings did not contain multiple contradictory theological views, he might have been a menace. When he entered the Royal Air Force, Clarke insisted that his dog tags be marked "pantheist" rather than the default, Church of England, and in a 1991 essay entitled "Credo", described himself as a logical positivist from the age of ten. In 2000, Clarke told the Sri Lankan newspaper, The Island, "I don't believe in God or an afterlife," and he identified himself as an atheist. He was honoured as a Humanist Laureate in the International Academy of Humanism. He has also described himself as a "crypto-Buddhist", insisting that Buddhism is not a religion. He displayed little interest about religion early in his life, for example, only discovering a few months after marrying that his wife had strong Presbyterian beliefs.
A famous quotation of Clarke's is often cited: "One of the great tragedies of mankind is that morality has been hijacked by religion." He was quoted in Popular Science in 2004 as saying of religion: "Most malevolent and persistent of all mind viruses. We should get rid of it as quick as we can." In a three-day "dialogue on man and his world" with Alan Watts, Clarke stated that he was biased against religion and said that he could not forgive religions for what he perceived as their inability to prevent atrocities and wars over time. In a reflection of the dialogue where he more broadly stated "mankind", his introduction to the penultimate episode of Mysterious World entitled "Strange Skies", Clarke said: "I sometimes think that the universe is a machine designed for the perpetual astonishment of astronomers." Near the very end of that same episode, the last segment of which covered the Star of Bethlehem, he stated that his favourite theory was that it might be a pulsar. Given that pulsars were discovered in the interval between his writing the short story, "The Star" (1955), and making Mysterious World (1980), and given the more recent discovery of pulsar PSR B1913+16, he said: "How romantic, if even now, we can hear the dying voice of a star, which heralded the Christian era."
Clarke left written instructions for a funeral that stated: "Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral."
Early in his career, Clarke had a fascination with the paranormal and stated that it was part of the inspiration for his novel Childhood's End. Citing the numerous promising paranormal claims that were shown to be fraudulent, Clarke described his earlier openness to the paranormal having turned to being "an almost total sceptic" by the time of his 1992 biography. During interviews, both in 1993 and 2004–2005, he stated that he did not believe in reincarnation, citing that there was no mechanism to make it possible, though he stated "I'm always paraphrasing J. B. S. Haldane: 'The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine.'" He described the idea of reincarnation as fascinating, but favoured a finite existence.
Clarke was well known for his television series investigating paranormal phenomena Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (1980), Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe (1985) and Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers (1994), enough to be parodied in an episode of The Goodies in which his show is cancelled after it is claimed he does not exist.
Clarke's work is marked by an optimistic view of science empowering mankind's exploration of the Solar System, and the world's oceans. His images of the future often feature a Utopian setting with highly developed technology, ecology, and society, based on the author's ideals. His early published stories would usually feature the extrapolation of a technological innovation or scientific breakthrough into the underlying decadence of his own society.
A recurring theme in Clarke's works is the notion that the evolution of an intelligent species would eventually make them something close to gods. This was explored in his 1953 novel Childhood's End and briefly touched upon in his novel Imperial Earth. This idea of transcendence through evolution seems to have been influenced by Olaf Stapledon, who wrote a number of books dealing with this theme. Clarke has said of Stapledon's 1930 book Last and First Men that "No other book had a greater influence on my life ... [It] and its successor Star Maker (1937) are the twin summits of [Stapledon's] literary career".
Clarke won more than a dozen annual literary awards for particular works of science fiction.
In 1986, Clarke provided a grant to fund the prize money (initially £1,000) for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best science fiction novel published in the United Kingdom in the previous year. In 2001 the prize was increased to £2001, and its value now matches the year (e.g., £2005 in 2005).
In 2005 he lent his name to the inaugural Sir Arthur Clarke Awards—dubbed the "Space Oscars". His brother attended the awards ceremony, and presented an award specially chosen by Arthur (and not by the panel of judges who chose the other awards) to the British Interplanetary Society.
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