Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! Collected Essays, 1934-1998 includes a large number of essays on diverse subjects. The essay from which the title is taken, “Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!” explores the reasons why humans search for evidence of intelligent life on other planets: The search is important because “It represents the highest possible form of exploration; and when we cease to explore, we will cease to be human.” This collection documents Clarke’s explorations of science fiction, of science and technology, and of the impact of science and technology on humans.
The selections that deal with science fiction reveal Clarke’s perspective on the genre. “Aspects of Science Fiction” is his attempt to define science fiction and to differentiate it from fantasy, while “Writing to Sell” expresses his frustrations with the pressure to produce works that will appeal to a wide audience. His reviews of science-fiction books and films are included. Some of the tributes to other science-fiction and fantasy authors, usually written at the times of their deaths, include “Dunsany, Lord of Fantasy,” “Tribute to Robert A. Heinlein,” “Good-Bye, Isaac” (Isaac Asimov), and “Gene Roddenberry.” His prefaces to The War of the Worlds and The First Men in the Moon also show his engagement with other writers of the genre.
Some pieces discuss his own work. “The Birth of HAL,” for example, explains...
(The entire section is 515 words.)
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