Arthur C. Clarke Short Fiction Analysis
Exposed in his childhood to both the pulp magazines of Hugo Gernsback and the English literary tradition of fantasy and science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke sometimes forged an uneasy alliance between the two in his own stories. The matter-of-fact description of the marvelous of H. G. Wells, the poetic evocation of unknown places of Lord Dunsany, and the immense vistas of space and time of the philosopher Olaf Stapledon lie cheek-by-jowl with artificial suspense devices, awkward sentimentality, schoolboy silliness, and melodramatic manipulation of such hoary motifs as the “stranded astronaut” or the “end of the world” in his less distinguished fiction. At its best, however, Clarke’s work shows glimpses of man’s rise to interplanetary civilization or evokes the wonder, in suitably subdued tones, of his confrontation with extraterrestrial intelligences.
His 1967 collection of his “favorites” represents many facets of his career, from the raconteur of tall tales and ghost stories to the fantasist, the sentimentalist, the realist, and the poet of wonder. Most of his best and best-known stories are included, from the haunting rite of passage of a young lunar exile getting his first glimpse of the unapproachably radioactive world of his ancestors (“‘If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth ,’”) to such “alien fables” of technological complacency as “Superiority” and “Before Eden.”
(The entire section is 2622 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Arthur C. Clarke Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!