Arthur C Clarke
Born on 16th of December 1917
Died on 19th of March 2008
Quotes from Arthur C Clarke
'I dont believe in God but I am'... More
Arguably the greatest figure in the British post-WWII science fiction boom, Arthur C. Clarke is principally remembered for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey based on his writing; but he was a prolific and gifted author, and his scientific imagination spawned or popularised various new engineering ideas.
Born in Minehead on December 16 1917 Clarke was an able pupil at Huish’s Grammar School, but could not continue into higher education until changed circumstances after WWII enabled him to take a degree at King’s College London (where he obtained a first in Maths and Physics). During the war he worked on radar projects, rising from the ranks to be demobbed as Flight Lieutenant.
Clarke published amateur pieces before the war, but after it his work began to be accepted professionally, firstly in Astounding Science Fiction. After his degree he worked in scientific journalism, but in 1951 turned full-time to writing - largely science fiction, but occasionally producing popular science books.
His science fiction is largely optimistic, often centred on the idea of contact with alien cultures (for example Rendezvous with Rama, or the short story The Sentinel on which 2001 is based) and what this would mean for mankind. There is a quasi-religious tone to some of his writing, though he avoided ‘organised religion’, citing the many evils done in its name. Childhood’s End, perhaps his finest book, combines the religious and the idea of alien contact.
Clarke could also be a very funny writer: the short story The Nine Billion Names of God pokes fun at both religion and atheism; and the collection Tales from the White Hart has a Wellsian love of surprise and retribution.
In 1945 Clarke was the first author to suggest the use of geostationary satellites as communications relays; he promoted the idea of space elevators; and conceived the idea of sound-waves cancelling one another out, now used in various applications.
A keen scuba-diver, Clarke emigrated to Sri Lanka in 1956 to enjoy that passion year-round. Though he avoided confirming it, he was almost certainly gay – a spur of the moment marriage lasted only six months. Clarke was knighted in 2000. At his request the ceremony was delayed while unfounded allegations of paedophilia were investigated and disclaimed in Sri Lanka. He died in his adopted country on March 19 2008.
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