Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Arthur C. Clarke

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (born December 16, 1917) is an author and inventor, probably most famous for his science fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is loosely inspired by Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", but it became its own novel while he was collaborating on a screen play with Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick approached Mr. Clarke about writing a novel for the express purpose of making "the proverbial good science-fiction movie", and the novel was still being written while the film was being made. This resulted in one of the truly unique collaborations in media history.

Arthur C. Clarke

He has written numerous other books, including the Rama novels and several sequels to 2001, and many short stories. There is an asteroid named in his honor, called (4923) Clarke.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Bibliography
3 See also


Arthur Charles Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England. As a boy, Clarke enjoyed stargazing and enthusiastically read old American science fiction magazines (magazines which made their way to England as ballast in ships). After secondary school, he was unable to afford college and consequently acquired a job in the government as an auditor.

During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defense system which contributed to the Royal Air Force's success during the Battle of Britain. After the war, he obtained a degree at King's College, London University.

His most important contribution may be the conception that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. He proposed this concept in a scientific paper titled "Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?", published in Wireless World in October 1945. The geostationary orbit is now known as the Clarke orbit in his honor.

In the early 1940s, while he was in the RAF, Clarke began selling his science fiction stories to magazines. Clarke worked briefly as Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts before devoting himself to writing full-time from 1951. He has been chairman of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the Underwater Explorers Club.

He has lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, since 1956. This inspired the locale for his novel, The Fountains of Paradise, in which he describes a space elevator. This, he figures, will ultimately be his legacy, more so than geostationary satellites, once space elevators make space shuttles obsolete.

His knighthood was first announced in 1998, but then the British tabloid The Sunday Mirror published serious accusations against him, and the award was delayed pending investigation. By 2000 it was clear that the story had been planted maliciously. Clarke was then awarded the title of Knight Bachelor at a ceremony in Colombo (his health did not allow him to travel to London to receive the honour personally from the Queen).


A partial list of his (some co-authored) fiction books in chronological order:

Apart from the fiction, Clarke has written two autobiographies. Ascent to Orbit is what he calls his scientific autobiography and Astounding Days his science fictional autobiography. Since Clarke has led a very full and interesting life, both books contain much of interest.

Most of his essays (between 1934 to 1998) can be found in the book Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds (2000). Most of his short stories can be found in the book The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (2001). They make a good collection of Clarke's non-fiction and fiction works, even for those who already have most of his books.

See also