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SFF Author: Arthur C. Clarke

(1917-2008)
Arthur.C.Clarke is probably the world’s best known and bestselling science fiction writer. He has won innumerable international awards for his fiction, for his science writing and for his inspirational role as one of the chief prophets of the space age. His collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: A Space Odyssey set new standards for SF films, and he has also presented the television series Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World and its successors. He was described by the New York Times as being “awesomely informed about physics and blessed with one of the most astounding imaginations ever encountered in print.” He has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and he is the only science-fiction writer to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Sir Arthur C Clarke died March 18th 2008 in his adopted home of Sri Lanka.


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Prelude to Space: Clarke’s 1951 debut

Prelude to Space by Arthur C. Clarke

Prelude to Space is the first novel Arthur C. Clarke wrote and is generally not considered as good as Childhood’s End (1953), probably the most famous of Clarke’s early novels. The publication history of this story is not unusual for the period. Clarke wrote the novel in the space of a month in 1947 but it wasn’t until 1951 that the whole novel was published in magazine format by Galaxy Science Fiction.


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Childhood’s End: The Overlords have a plan for us

Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

There’s something very comforting in the SF novels of Arthur C. Clarke, my favorite of the Big Three SF writers of the Golden Age (the other two being Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov). His stories are clearly-written, unembellished, and precise, and they focus on science, ideas, and plot. Though some claim his characters are fairly wooden, I don’t see it that way. They tend to be fairly level-headed and logical, and focus on handling the situations on hand in an intelligent manner.


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Against the Fall of Night: Historically interesting, difficult to read

Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke

Against the Fall of Night, by Arthur C. Clarke, originally appeared as a novella in 1948, in Startling Stories. Clarke expanded the story and published it as a novel with Gnome Press in 1953. Still later he wrote The City and the Stars which expands some of the themes posited in Against the Fall of Night.

Against the Fall of Night would be considered a novella by today’s standards;


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The City and The Stars: Restless in a perfect future city

The City and The Stars by Arthur C. Clarke

The City and The Stars is a 1954 rewrite of Arthur C. Clarke’s first book Against the Fall of Night (1948). There are plenty of adherents of the original version, but the revised version is excellent too.

As one of his earlier classic tales, this one features many familiar genre tropes: A far-future city called Diaspar, where technology is so sophisticated it seems like magic, a young (well not exactly,


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Earthlight: Imaginative descriptions of life on the moon

Earthlight by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke is one of the most influential writers of science fiction. His quiet optimism, faith in science, and ability to tell straightforward but intriguing tales endeared him to a generation of fans that continues to this day. Earthlight, his sixth published novel, follows directly on the heels of his successful Childhood’s End, and though rather simplistic in presentation, adheres to the author’s style in perfect fashion.

Earthlight is the story of Bertram Sadler,


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A Fall of Moondust: A hard SF survival story

A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke

Pat Harris is the captain of Selene, the only tour bus on the moon. Every day he and his stewardess, Sue Wilkins, take passengers on a trip across the moon’s Sea of Thirst. This crater filled with moondust seems similar to a lake on Earth, and Selene, like a motorboat, smoothly skims across its surface. By the light of Mother Earth, Selene’s passengers are entertained by glorious views of the moon’s topography, including the impressive Mountains of Inaccessibility.


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2001: A Space Odyssey: The perfect collaboration between book and film

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke actually collaborated with Stanley Kubrick to produce the novel version of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) in order to provide the basis for brilliant Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. So although the book can be considered the original work, the filmmaker also had a role in its creation, and Clarke also rewrote parts of the book to fit the screenplay as that took shape.

Readers and viewers will forever enjoy debating whether a film or novel version is better,


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2010: Odyssey Two: Answers some questions

2010: Odyssey Two by Arthur C. Clarke

Please note that this review will include spoilers of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, we learn that mysterious forces have guided humanity’s evolution. We don’t meet these forces, but we do see their monoliths. The first monolith appears before a group of struggling chimpanzees. When they touch the monolith, they are inspired to use tools. The novel shifts to the twenty-first century, when another monolith is found on the moon.


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2061: Odyssey Three: Blandly going where he has gone twice before

2061: Odyssey Three by Arthur C. Clarke

This is not a great book. It’s really more of an extended novella or perhaps part one of Arthur C. Clarke‘s SPACE ODYSSEY finale, 3001. This story has none of the depth, nuance or scale of Clarke’s classic original, 2001 nor its solid follow up 2010.

Beware of spoilers for the previous novels below. I’m assuming anyone who reads this review will likely have read the two preceding novels,


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3001: The Final Odyssey: Short, unnecessary series conclusion

3001: The Final Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

The elements that make 2001: A Space Odyssey a classic — the pacing, dramatic tension, smartly efficient plot lines — are mostly missing from Arthur C. Clarke‘s Space Odyssey finale, 3001: The Final Odyssey. What it retains is Clarke’s obvious exuberance for biological, technological and cultural evolution. Each book in the series represents an evolution in itself even, of Clarke’s own perspective and thinking on the growth of humanity overtime,


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A Meeting with Medusa: A vivid Silver Age imagining of Jupiter

A Meeting with Medusa by Arthur C. Clarke

If speculative fiction has any stranglehold on literature, it’s the lack of limitations to the question: what if? Fantasy is a complete expression of this facet, while science fiction tugs lightly on the reins lest the imagination escape reality entirely. In Arthur C. Clarke’s 1971 novella A Meeting with Medusa, Jupiter is that reality. Clarke penned the novella for anyone who ever wondered what being in the gas giant’s atmosphere might be like.


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Rendezvous with Rama: Multi-award winner with controversial ending

Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke

In 2131, humans are minding their own business when a large object thought to be an asteroid is detected at the edge of our solar system. As it gets closer to Earth it is photographed and found to be unnatural — obviously an alien spaceship. A team of scientists is sent to meet the ship dubbed “Rama” and to make our first contact with an alien species. When they get there, they find Rama uninhabited and they set out to discover all they can about the aliens who must have launched it.


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The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937-1971: A dated collection

The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937-1971 by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke’s first short story appeared 15 years before his first novel, and much of his oeuvre is to be found in short fiction. In fact, despite the success of his novels — Childhood’s EndRendezvous with Rama, and The City and the Stars among them — Clarke produced as much short fiction in the middle and end of his career as the beginning.


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The Fountains of Paradise: A visionary classic now on audio

The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke

The latest scheme dreamed up by Dr. Vannevar Morgan, a materials engineer, is either pure genius or pure crackpot: He wants to build an elevator to space. He’s discovered a new material that he thinks is strong enough to withstand the gravitational and climatic forces that would act on such a structure and he’s found the only place on Earth where it’s possible to achieve his dream: the top of the mountain Sri Kanda on the equatorial island of Taprobane (pronounced “top-ROB-oh-knee”). Unfortunately, this mountain is the sacred home of a sect of Buddhist monks who are not willing to budge unless one of their prophecies is fulfilled.


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The Songs of Distant Earth: A slightly fantastic SF tale

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke

The Songs of Distant Earth is one of Clarke’s later novels, based on a shorter piece of the same name that he wrote in the 1950s. In the foreword Clarke states it is something of a response to the rise of what he calls “space opera” on television and the silver screen (he specifically mentions Star Trek, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas), which according to him are fantasy. I suppose one could see them as such if you stick to the narrow interpretation of science fiction.


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Time’s Eye: Action, science and… Alexander the Great vs. Genghis Khan?

Time’s Eye by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter

Action, you say? Science!? Characters in 3D!?? But wait… there’s more! How about an ancient battle-royale between Alexander the Great and his army vs. Genghis Khan and his Mongolian horde?

Oh yes, sci-fi power couple Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter have all that and more in the 2003 opening to their A TIME ODYSSEY series, which, in theory, takes place in the same universe as Clarke’s SPACE ODYSSEY stories.

Inexplicably,


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The Last Theorem: Arthur C. Clarke’s last novel

The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke & Frederik Pohl

In March 2008 one of the titans of science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90. At the time he was working on The Last Theorem, a collaboration with another big name in science fiction, the slightly younger Frederik Pohl who died in 2013. Clarke’s health would not permit him to do the writing himself so much of the novel was written by Pohl based on an outline and notes by Clarke.


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Christmas SHORTS: Clarke, Swanwick, Wentworth, Correia

In this special edition, we’ve found speculative short stories with a Christmas theme. 

“The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke (1954, free online or purchase at Audible)

In this Hugo-awarded Christmas-themed story, an astrophysicist who is also a Jesuit priest struggles with his faith as he returns from a scientific voyage to investigate a white dwarf, the remains of a star that went supernova thousands of years ago. What they discover shakes the priest’s faith as he tries to incorporate his new knowledge with some of the more innocent-seeming ideals of his order’s teachings.


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SHORTS: Lawrence, Vaughn, Kressel, Baggott, Mott, Veter, Clarke

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories that caught our eyes this week.

“The Secret” by Mark Lawrence (2015, $1.95 at Audible)

I haven’t read Mark Lawrence’s BROKEN EMPIRE series yet, but after reading “The Secret,” I definitely want to. This story gives some background into Brother Sim, an assassin who is part of Jorg Ancrath’s brotherhood. Brother Sim has snuck into a princess’s bedroom (invited) and is telling her the story of an assassin.


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SHORTS: Anders, Nagata, Howard, McGuire, Clarke

After a few weeks’ vacation, SHORTS returns to continue exploring free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we’ve read recently that we wanted you to know about. 

“As Good as New” by Charlie Jane Anders (2014, free at Tor.com, 99c Kindle version)

Marisol Guzmán, a pre-med student who decided that being a doctor was a better career choice than a playwright, is saved from the end of the world only because she’s housecleaning a mansion when massive earthquakes began.


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SHORTS: Gregory, Roanhorse, Vernon, Mamatas & Pratt, Clarke, Lowachee

Our weekly exploration of free and inexpensive short fiction available on the internet. Here are a few stories we’ve read recently that we wanted you to know about.

“Second Person, Present Tense” by Daryl Gregory (2005, free in print and audio at Clarkesworld, November 2017 issue; originally published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, September 2005 issue)

I love what Daryl Gregory does with drugs. “Second Person, Present Tense” is about the parents of a girl who died after overdosing on a drug called “Zen” or “Zombie.” Unable to cope with their loss,


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The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus: An all-star lineup

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus edited by Brian W. Aldiss

The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973) is a compilation of three short story anthologies: Penguin Science Fiction (1961), More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964), all edited by Brian Aldiss. Presenting an all-star lineup of established Silver Age and burgeoning New Age writers, most all are well known names in the field, including Isaac Asimov


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They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures

They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures edited by Jim Wynorski

It really was a splendid idea for an anthology: Select a dozen of the most famous, beloved and influential science fiction movies of all time and then gather together the 12 short stories and novellas that had served as their source material. And that is precisely what editor Jim Wynorski did, resulting in his 1980 collection They Came From Outer Space: 12 Classic Science Fiction Tales That Became Major Motion Pictures.


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Previous SFF Author: Cassandra Clare

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