ARTHUR C. CLARKE
Co-author, with Stanley Kubrick, of the screenplay
Arthur C Clarke's talent for combining science fact with literary fancy dates back to a March, 1930 copy of Astounding Stories, an American pulp magazine he came across while growing up on his father's farm near Minehead, Somerset, England. Astounding Stories was the Alice in Wonderland of science fiction, in which the writers' description of life on other worlds was limited only by their imagination, completely unhampered by the need for plausibility or concern for mundane fact. Since Astounding's writers were paid by the word, their conceptions of extraterrestrial life tended to be highly detailed, always wondrous and usually terrifying. Before long, young Clarke's lone copy of Astounding became a complete collection of Astounding, Wonder and Amazing, all of the same genre.
The scene shifts to the post World War II years when Clarke, ex-farm boy, now RAF radar officer, is attending King's College in London. In two years, instead of the usual four, Clark is graduated with a first class honors degree in physics and mathematics, followed by graduate work in advanced mathematics and applied astronomy. The blending of these two influences produce stories and articles that are lively, and highly readable-the astounding influence-but always firmly rooted projections based on Clarke's up-to-the-minute knowledge of current developments of our exploding technology. The resulting predictions are not only possible but probable.
Few living writers reach as many people of different literary tastes and ages as does Clarke. His name is familiar to readers of Playboy, Reader's Digest and Life, and he is generally considered the dean of science fiction writers. Yet this is the same man who, in a technical paper written in 1945, originated the concept of communications satellites and, more importantly, described precisely how they would function-all a dozen years before the first Sputnik startled the world with its beeps.
Readers of Clarkian glimpses into the future sometimes suspect that he has a crystal ball that works. His logic, plausibility and avoidance of technical terms that would drive most laymen to the nearest television set have resulted in his books being printed in some thirty languages-a total of about five million copies. His recent "Man in Space" was published by Time-Life and in 1965 a Life article on communication satellites won him the Aviation-Space-Writers' prize for the best aerospace reporting in any medium
For the past twelve years Clarke's hobby had been underwater exploration along the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and off the coast of Ceylon, where he has resided since 1956. This doesn't mean, however, that he has lost interest in outer space. Clarke's personal timetable for the future includes a trip to the moon in 1980. He also predicts landings on other planets by 1980, and colonization of planets in 2000-or 2001.