Arthur C. Clarke was born 100 years ago

Arthur C. Clarke in 2005 (Photo Amy Marash)
Arthur C. Clarke in 2005 (Photo Amy Marash)

Arthur Charles Clarke was born on December 16, 1917 in Minehead, Somerset, England.

Arthur C. Clarke became interested in science and started reading science fiction magazines since he was very young. Initially, however, they were only hobbies so he started working as a pensions auditor. In 1941 he started serving in the RAF as a radar specialist until 1946. After World War II he earned a degree in mathematics and physics at the King’s College London.

After publishing short fiction in fanzines for some years, in 1966 Arthur C. Clarke published his first story in a professional magazine, “Loophole” in “Astounding Science Fiction”. For a few years he worked as a part-time writer. In the technological field, he made the concept of geostationary satellite popular, also in relation to the development of space flight, with a series of articles and essays written in the course of several years.

In 1948 Arthur C. Clarke published the first version of “Against the Fall of Night”, a novella later expanded and republished as a novel in 1953. The author restructured it into the novel “The City and the Stars”, published in 1956. In the meantime, he also published other novels from “The Sands of Mars” (1951) to “A Fall of Moondust” (1961). At that point he decided to become a full-time writer.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote a continuation of his 1946 “Guardian Angel” novelette, which as a consequence became the first part of his 1953 novel “Childhood’s End“.

In 1956 Arthur C. Clarke moved to today’s Sri Lanka, where he also devoted himself to underwater exploration. On various occasions, he discovered archaeological relics from various eras. He had to give up that kind of activity when he was struck by polio, which undermined his mobility and forced him to resort to the use of a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Instead, Arthur C. Clarke continued his activity as a writer, of both science fiction and scientific articles and essays.

The short story “The Sentinel” (1948) was chosen by the director Stanley Kubrick as the basis for his movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Clarke developed the script with him and later published an adaptation as a novel. Years later, he wrote the sequel “2010: Odyssey Two“, published in 1982 and later adapted in the movie “2010”, also known as “2010: The Year We Make Contact”.

In the 1970s, Arthur C. Clarke published two of his most famous and award-winning novels, “Rendezvous with Rama” (1973) and “The Fountains of Paradise” (1979) but also others such as “Imperial Earth” (1975). However, at that time he also started hosting various documentary shows about unexplained phenomena. Clarke had been interested in the paranormal but his scientific investigation of them had led him to a strong skepticism.

In the late 1980s, with the gradual decline of his health, Arthur C. Clarke started relying on other writers to develop his ideas while remaining credited as their author. In particular, he collaborated with Gentry Lee starting from the novel “Cradle” (1988) but above all for the sequels of the Rama series: “Rama II” (1989), “The Garden of Rama” (1991) “Rama Revealed” (1993).

Other collaborations were with Gregory Benford to write “Beyond the Fall of Night” (1990) and the one with Stephen Baxter for “The Light of Other Days” (2000) and the Time Odyssey trilogy.

Arthur C. Clarke started developing one last novel but his health didn’t allow him to continue and the project was completed by Frederik Pohl in the novel “The Last Theorem” (2008). He died on March 19, 2008.

Arthur C. Clarke was married for a short time but that was his only official bond. Among his colleagues his homosexuality was known but at the time it was a topic that was not talked about.

The latest novels signed by Arthur C. Clarke tend to reproduce elements already developed in previous decades but for a long time he managed to write great works that remain among the best productions in the field of science fiction. He was famous for his scientific precision and his works tend to contain an optimistic view of technological and scientific developments. At the same time, they often contain concepts of transcendence. The strong development of those themes made him one of the great masters of science fiction.

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