September 2002's Author! Author!

Sir Arthur C. Clarke
(Chosen by reviewer & interviewer, Jo Rogers)

Accolades for Sir Arthur
By Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com

Why? Why is Sir Arthur C. Clarke one of my favorite authors? Put simply, he is one of the best. He does everything right, from the opening sentence to a satisfying ending. He uses a lot more science in his work than most science fiction writers use. That is because he is comfortable with the subject. He possesses degrees in both physics and mathematics. He has been involved in many scientific projects, both in space and in the oceans and has written as much science nonfiction as he has science fiction. An author can write good science fiction without knowing science. Mr. Clarke is living proof that an author can write better science fiction if he, or she, does know science. And, when he is writing alone, Mr. Clarke writes his superb fiction without all the foul language, sex and violence lesser authors must depend on to sell their work.

About Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur Charles Clarke was born December 16, 1917, in Minehead, Somerset, England, the eldest of four children. The coastal town is located on the southern coast of the inlet south of Wales. He became interested in science at a very young age, which has included a life-long love of space exploration. He built his first telescope when he was thirteen. His father died the following year, forcing a change in lifestyle as his mother began to give riding lessons to augment the family's income.

From Minehead, at age 18, Clarke moved to London, where he joined the British Interplanetary Society. It was here that he began to write the B.I.S. Bulletin and science fiction. A link to the British Planetary Society's website is below.

Like most men, Mr. Clarke joined the armed forces during World War II and served as an officer in England's Royal Air Force. During his service there, he was in charge of the first experimental tests of "talk-down" radar equipment to control aircraft landings from the ground. The only nonscience-fiction novel he ever wrote, GLIDE PATH, stemmed from this work.

When the war was over, Clarke returned to London and the B.I.S. He even served as its president in 1946, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1952 and 1953. It was during this time that Clarke published his first science fiction story, RESCUE PARTY. It appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in May of 1946. In 1947, he wrote his first published novel, PRELUDE TO SPACE, which he wrote in three weeks. It was just the beginning of what has been a long and distinguished career. Among the awards he has received are the Hugo in 1956, 1974, 1980, the Nebula in 1972, 1973, 1979 and he was named a Nebula Grand Master in 1985.

Clarke also entered King's College after the war, where he earned a B.Sc in math and physics in 1948. Soon afterward, Clarke completed and published the technical paper EXTRATERRESTRIAL RELAYS, in which he proposes that satellites could be used to relay communications all over the world. He was also the first to realize that a geostationary orbit at 42,000 kilometers would be useful for this purpose. Twenty-three years after he published the paper, his dream was realized. Satellites in the geostationary orbit, or the Clarke Orbit, as it is now known, are the backbone of global communications. We find them indispensable. To read these papers, go to the link below.

This was not his only contribution to satellite use. In 1954, Mr. Clarke began corresponding with Dr. Harry Wexler, who was then head of the United States Weather Bureau. Mr. Clarke proposed using satellites to forecast weather. The men corresponded for some time before Dr. Wexler began the drive to move America's Weather Bureau into the space age. Today, we depend heavily on that satellite system to keep us alert to weather conditions all over the world. We can now keep track of El Niño, La Niña, hurricanes and other weather phenomena from Earth orbit.

Clarke's love of space exploration has only been interrupted briefly when he began to explore the ocean. He found that scuba diving could imitate one of space flight's most fascinating properties - weighlessness. He is never far from the sea, though his health has deteriorated to the point he can no longer dive. He has had a recurrence of polio, and cannot walk and breathes with difficulty. Still, he waits impatiently for each new Hubble and Mars discovery. He still firmly believes we will find life on Mars and feels some of the Orbiter photos show vegetation.

It is in his book PROFILES OF THE FUTURE that we find "Clarke's Three Laws," tongue-in-cheek comments on science and life. They are:

Clarke's First Law:

"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

Clarke defines the adjective 'elderly' as follows:
"In physics, mathematics and astronautics it means over thirty; in other disciplines, senile decay is sometimes postponed to the forties. There are of course, glorious exceptions; but as every researcher just out of college knows, scientists of over fifty are good for nothing but board meetings, and should at all costs be kept out of the laboratory." (in Profiles of the Future.)

The Second Law of Arthur C. Clarke:

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

The Third Law of Arthur C. Clarke:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

After he wrote these three laws, Clarke also wrote, "Since three laws was sufficient for both the Isaacs - Newton and Asimov - I have decided to stop here." But, of course, he didn't stop there. In the second appendix of THE ODYSSEY FILE, he wrote the Sixty-ninth Law of Arthur C. Clarke:

"Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software."

Clarke now lives in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as he has done since 1954. He loves this island and has no wish to leave it, unless he could fly into space. I wish for him that his body could roam the stars as easily as his mind has done.


The Fountains of Paradise
By Arthur C. Clarke
Aspect/Warner Books - September 2001
ISBN: 0-446-67794-9 - Paperback
Science Fiction

Reviewed by Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

When THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE was first published in 1979, the bridge from Earth to space was impossible, because it required a material that is stronger than steel. With the discovery of "buckminsterfullerene," the tower is more than a possibility, but could easily be a probability.

Vannevar Morgan was no ordinary engineer. He had just finished building a bridge across the Strait of Gibraltar, a feat his critics said couldn't be done. Now, he wants to build a bridge to space, a tower that railroad-style cars could climb to escape Earth's gravity without the noise and expense of a rocket. Only one thing stands in his way - a Buddhist monastery that stands atop the only mountain on Earth where the tower could be safely anchored. And the monks have possession of it until the golden butterflies come to the top of the mountain. Can Morgan ever achieve his dream?

Along with the legend of the butterflies, Morgan learns the legends that surround much of the area. The story of the evil king that murdered his father to take the throne is quite fascinating and is based on historical fact. And, as with all truly great writers, Clarke tells the story without the use of foul language or explicit sex and violence. The only thing that detracted from the story was the atheistic view of an alien probe he called Starglider. If an alien actually comes to visit, he might be totally surprised!


The Lion of Comarre & Against the Fall of Night
By Arthur C. Clarke
Harcourt, Brace & World - March 1987
ISBN: 0151525242 - Paperback
Science Fiction

Reviewed by Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

These two books were printed in one volume first in 1968. It was in hardback then and there was no ISBN number. But the books themselves are timeless. Both books deal with the desires of a young man to go beyond the accepted limits of a stagnant society. First, lets look at THE LION OF COMARRE.

Richard Peyton III wants to be an engineer. But the Earth doesn't need engineers. Everything that could be invented has been invented, hasn't it? Robots see to all the needs of man and are so sophisticated they take care of each other. The World Council is happy with the status quo. There is total peace and contentment and they have little to do. Peyton has got to be stopped. So, they send the boy's grandfather to talk him out of it. He is, after all, one of their own members.

But young Peyton avoids his grandfather and hightails it to Scientia, an island of labs and science projects. There, his best friend, Alan Henson, tells Peyton he has a relative who was an engineer of the first magnitude. Rolf Thordarsen was Peyton's great-grandfather twenty-two generations ago. He had a dream, but the world Council refused to allow him to go any further. But Thordarsen built the City of Comarre and no one who went there ever came back. They all said they didn't want to leave. For that reason, Comarre is now off limits, and has been hidden so thoroughly, most people think it is a myth. Scientia wants Peyton to find Comarre and find what Thordarsen did to make people stay there. But if he goes in, can young Peyton get back out?

THE LION OF COMARRE is a story of human resistance to change the status quo and how rare the spirits who must go beyond the known truly are. As always, Arthur C. Clarke presents interesting characters and a frighteningly possible plot. He will keep you reading to the end and will leave you hungering for more. May mankind never be too satisfied to dream, to search for a better tomorrow.


Against the Fall of Night
By Arthur C. Clarke
Harcourt, Brace & World - March 1987
ISBN: 0151525242 - Paperback
Science Fiction

Reviewed by Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

Alvin had never seen a cloud before and his father had only seen one. The Earth had once known many clouds and seas had once covered two-thirds of her surface. Once, her lands were dotted with cities and mankind also made his home among the stars. The Invaders changed all that. They had driven man from the stars, forced him to hide Earth's oceans and had left him with only one great city, Diaspar.

Mankind himself had changed, too. He no longer knew the taste of death. Alvin was the first child to be born in Diaspar in seven thousand years. Population had to be strictly controlled to avoid overtaxing Diaspar's resources. It would take young Alvin several centuries to grow to manhood.

But, like all young boys, Alvin was curious, even adventurous. He wanted to see what lay beyond Diaspar. He knew there had once been more cities and he wanted to know why they were now in ruins. He also wanted to know who the Invaders were and why man could no longer go to the stars.

With the aid of Rorden, the Keeper of Records, Alvin found Lys and a way to get there. Though it was forbidden, he left the city of Diaspar and journeyed to a land so different from his own the two cities no longer communicated. Would they let him go home? And was the reason man no longer went to the stars truly fear of the Invaders?

Again, we see a society content with what it has and is too afraid to dream. Again, it is faced with a maverick that, for better or worse, is not satisfied to let things alone. And, once again, Clarke has set out to motivate human beings to move out of their complacency and look beyond their day-to-day existence.


Rendezvous with Rama
By Arthur C. Clarke
Bantam Spectra (reissue) - December 1990
ISBN: 0553287893 - Paperback
Science Fiction

Reviewed by Jo Rogers, MyShelf.Com
Buy a Copy

In the year 2130, scientists almost missed the single most astounding scientific opportunity in the history of mankind. The long-awaited visitor from the stars was written off as an asteroid. Finally, it got close enough to be recognized for what it was, an interstellar spacecraft, and it was heading for our little corner of space. Only one vessel was in position to meet the stranger, the Solar Survey Ship, Endeavour, commanded by Commander Bill Norton.

Commander Norton put Endeavour down on the north pole of the forty-kilometer-long ship without knowing if it was inhabited or what kind of reception he would receive. He set his ship down between the hub and one of the three pillbox structures on the north pole. The alien vessel, which had been christened Rama when it was still thought to be an asteroid, was spinning enough to create a small artificial gravity that would hold Endeavour in place while her crew checked out the inside.

When the crew entered the Rama, they found that beside each of the three pillboxes were three identical airlocks leading to three identical ladders that led to three identical stairways into to the interior of the ship. These were placed at 120° around the circular surface of the ship. Apparently, the Ramans did everything in threes.

Inside, the ship was dark and the temperature was below freezing. Had the Ramans come all this way to meet the humans of Earth only to die in transit? Or were they lurking in the darkness to see if the humans were friendly? Or did they mean to kill the intruders from the third planet?

RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA is the beginning of a fascinating four-volume series that explores the possibilities of first contact. The next three volumes were written with Gentry Lee, who is not as clean in his language as Clarke himself is. But that is the only disappointment from a science fiction giant whose creativity never disappoints, Arthur C. Clarke.



Across the Sea of Stars (1959)
Against the Fall of Night (1953)
An Arthur C. Clarke Omnibus (1965)
An Arthur C. Clarke Second Omnibus (1968)
The Best of Arthur C. Clarke (1973)
The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937 - 1955 (1977)
The Best of Arthur C. Clarke: 1956 - 1972 (1977)
Childhood's End (1968)
The City and the Stars (1956)
The Deep Range (1957)
Dolphin Island (1963) [YA]
Earthlight (1955)
Expedition to Earth (1953)
A Fall of Moondust (1961)
The Fountains of Paradise (1979) - Winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards
Four Great SF Novels (1978)
From the Ocean, From the Stars (1962)
The Ghost from the Grand Banks (1990)
The Hammer of God (1993)
Imperial Earth (1975)
Islands in the Sky (1952)
The Lion of Commare & Against the Fall of Night (1968)
A Meeting With Medusa (1988)
More Than One Universe (1991)
The Nine Billion Names of God (1967)
Of Time and Stars (1972)
The Other Side of the Sky (1958)
Prelude to Mars (1965)
Prelude to Space (1951)
Reach for Tomorrow (1956)
Rendezvous with Rama (1973) - Winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards
The Sands of Mars (1951)
The Sentinel (1983)
The Songs of Distant Earth (1986)
Tales From Planet Earth (1990)
Tales from the White Hart (1957)
Tales of Ten Worlds (1962)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2010: Odyssey Two (1982)
2061: Odyssey Three (1988)
3001: The Final Odyssey (1997)
The Wind from the Sun (1972)


with Gregory Benford
Beyond the Fall of Night (1990)

with Gentry Lee
Cradle (1988)
Rama II (1989)
The Garden of Rama (1991)
Rama Revealed (1993)

with Mike McQuay
Richter 10 (1996)

with Michael P. Kube-McDowell
The Trigger (1999)

with Stephen Baxter
The Light of Other Days (2000)



Glide Path (1963)


Project Solar Sail (1990)
Time Probe (1966)

with George W. Proctor
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume III (1982)



Arthur C. Clarke & Lord Dunsany: A Correspondence (1998)
Arthur C. Clarke's July 20, 2019 (1986)
Ascent to Orbit: A Scientific Autobiography (1984)
Astounding Days: a Science Fictional Autobiography (1989)
Boy Beneath the Sea (1958)
By Space Possessed (1993)
The Challenge of the Sea (1960)
The Challenge of the Spaceship (1960)
The Coast of Coral (1956)
The Colours of Infinity (1994)
The Exploration of Space (1951)
The Exploration of the Moon (1954)
The Fantastic Muse (1992)
The First Five Fathoms (1960)
First on the Moon (1970)
Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999)
How the World Was One (1992)
Indian Ocean Adventure (1961)
Interplanetary Flight (1950)
The Lost Worlds of 2001 (1972)
The Making of a Moon (1957)
Man and Space (1964)
1984: Spring, A Choice of Futures (1984)
Profiles of the Future (1962)
The Promise of Space (1968)
The Reefs of Taprobane (1957)
Report on Planet Three (1972)
Sri Lanka: The Emerald Island (2000)
The Snows of Olympus (1994)
Technology and the Frontiers of Knowledge (1975)
The Treasure of the Great Reef (1964)
The View from Serendip (1977)
Voice Across the Sea (1958)
Voices from the Sky (1965)
The Young Traveller in Space (1954)


with Chesley Bonestell
Beyond Jupiter (1972)

with Peter Hyams
The Odyssey File (1985)

with Robert Silverberg
Into Space (1971)

with Mike Wilson
Indian Ocean Treasure (1964)

with John Fairley
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World (1981) (and Simon Welfare)
Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers (1984)


Technical Papers

Extra Terrestrial Relays in Wireless World, October 1945, pages 305-308.




2002's Honorary List

1998- 2012
All rights reserved.


© MyShelf. All Rights Reserved.