Clarke, Arthur C.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Clarke, Arthur C.

Arthur C. Clarke: (Sir Arthur Charles Clarke), 1917–2008, British science fiction writer. During World War II he served as a radar instructor and aviator in the Royal Air Force. After the war he obtained a degree in physics and mathematics from King's College, London (1948) and in 1956 he settled permanently in Sri Lanka. His popular, technologically realistic books and stories are based not solely on imagination but also on scientific fact and theory. His works blend dread and wonder as they examine the search for meaning in the universe and as they champion the idea that humanity's future lies far beyond Earth. Among his nearly 100 books are Childhood's End (1953), The Nine Billion Names of God (1967), Rendezvous with Rama (1973), and The Songs of Distant Earth (1983); he alwo wrote more than 1,000 short stories and essays. In 1968 he collaborated with filmmaker Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey, a novel that became an extremely successful motion picture with a screenplay also co-written by Kubrick and Clarke. Three novelistic sequels by Clarke followed, the last in 1997. Clarke's Collected Stories were published in 2001. Many of his ideas proved to be prophetic. In 1945, for instance, Clarke proposed the concept of positioning an artificial satellite in an orbit in which it circles the earth every 24 hours, thus appearing stationary to the locale below. Today, dozens of such communications satellites orbit the earth in a geosynchronous circuit known as the Clarke orbit. He was knighted in 1998.

See his Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography (1990); biography by N. McAleer (1992); study by J. D. Olander and M. H. Greenberg, ed. (1977), G. E. Slusser (1977), E. S. Rabkin (1979), and J. Hollow (1983).

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