Cover for WESTFAHL: Arthur C. Clarke. Click for larger image

Arthur C. Clarke

The creative odyssey of the man who foresaw the future—and the present

Already renowned for his science fiction and scientific nonfiction, Arthur C. Clarke became the world’s most famous science fiction writer after the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He then produced novels like Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise that many regard as his finest works.

Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke's remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke’s science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity’s destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke’s characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.

"This is the most insightful analysis of Clarke I have seen. It has many gems, such as this irresistible pearl: 'Clarke's characters anticipate the way that more and more people now live their lives. Clarke's characters, then, may someday be regarded as his most significant prediction of the future, making him seem more like a twenty-first century writer than a twentieth-century writer—perhaps the greatest compliment one can imagine for a science fiction writer.' His scaffold leading to this is of the highest quality."--Gregory Benford


Gary Westfahl, formerly of the University of La Verne and the University of California, Riverside, has now retired to focus exclusively on research and writing. His many books on science fiction include William Gibson and Hugo Gernsback and the Century of Science Fiction.

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