(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Imperial Earth examines the complex relationships among the three main characters, but it is clearly a work of science fiction. As in all of Arthur C. Clarkes work, technical accuracy is stressed, particularly in the way that Duncan, having spent virtually all of his life on Titan, must physically prepare for Earths much stronger gravity. Other scientific elements include Clarkes detailed descriptions of Titans atmospheric conditions and appearance, the use of a space drive powered by an artificially created black hole, Karls proposed CETI project, and the cloning that is central to the novels plot. Imperial Earth also addresses sociological issues. Although it is not directly related to the story line, Clarkes future Earth has a history that includes a population crisis at the end of the twentieth century, so severe that millions of people starved to death. That disaster and other catastrophes finally led to a planetwide effort to control population and replenish Earths natural resources and wildlife. Together, these scientific and social elements give Imperial Earth an effective and unmistakable science-fictional setting in which the characters relationships are explored.

After fulfilling the three-book contract from which Imperial Earth resulted, Clarke began to write fewer solo full-length works in original settings. The Songs of Distant Earth (1986) and The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990) were...

(The entire section is 581 words.)