The Space Odyssey Series Critical Essays

Arthur C. Clarke


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Clarke is not only an award-winning writer of science fiction (winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards) but also an articulate spokesman for the scientific community and a distinguished scientist himself. Besides the Space Odyssey series, he has written Childhood’s End (1953), Against the Fall of Night (1953; revised and expanded to The City and the Stars, 1956), Rendezvous with Rama (1973), and many other novels and short stories. He has also written much nonfiction, including The Exploration of Space (1951) and Interplanetary Flight (1950). With the editors of Life, he wrote Man and Space (1964), and with Walter Cronkite, he covered the first manned moon landing for television. In 1945, Clarke invented the synchronous communications satellite; Earth’s band of communications satellites is named the Clarke Belt for him.

As Clarke has noted, science is necessary for science fiction to exist, and as science expands, so does the scope for scientific speculation. He takes great satisfaction as his predictions come to pass. In Clarke’s science fiction, the science is as significant as the fiction.

Clarke’s fiction not only treats such themes as space travel and artificial intelligence, in which experience can bear out his predictions, but also more speculative themes such as human contact with extraterrestrial intelligence and the possible...

(The entire section is 554 words.)