Arthur C. Clarke: Books & Short Stories

Instructor: Tina Miller

Tina has taught English, has an MFA in Creative Writing, and has several published novels and short stories.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was an adventurer. Known for his ''A Space Odyssey: 2001,'' Clarke is heralded as a literary expert of science. He has made space a familiar force with his varied, vast collection of publications.

Center of the Universe

Throughout his lifetime, Sir Arthur C. Clarke has graced readers' intellects since the 1930s. While best known as a science-fiction novelist, Clarke has also written a wealth of novels, stories, and non-fiction items. He has aimed for the stars, surpassed them, and then shared his observances with readers for many generations. Learn about his contributions to science and science fiction through this lesson.


As a science-fiction novelist, Clarke has developed futuristic worlds in which he examines technology, struggles, life, relationships, and science. His formal writing career began with the story ''Rescue Party,'' published in 1946 in the magazine, Astounding Science. Therein, aliens arrive to Earth only to realize that it has been deserted. Clarke was quite familiar with alien life, having developed robust intergalactic societies, creatures, and extraterrestrial beings throughout his works. In Childhood's End (1953), Clarke explores life on earth after an alien invasion. Through his vast collection of works, he has developed governments, religions, and utopias. A Meeting with Medusa (1971) introduces us to aliens living in the clouds of Jupiter. He explores how life evolves and changes because of and with science and because of and with extraterrestrial beings. Clarke emphasizes through his works that we are not alone.

Science, Fiction, and Space Converge
Science, Fiction, and Space Converge


Clarke began writing at a time when the space race was just beginning. He was a visionary, and not only of extra life forms. He has imagined concepts that are unfathomable. In The Fountains of Paradise (1979) he explores the construction of a 'space elevator' that reaches a satellite. Such imaginative and speculative writing earned him the 1980 Hugo and Nebula awards. He develops worlds reliant upon technology, like the city of Diaspar in The City and the Stars (1956). Diaspar is run on one central computer. He understands the logistics behind harvesting and selling hydrogen for interplanetary spacecraft (Imperial Earth) while creating scenarios where the moon is inhabited (Earthlight). In The Hammer of God (1993), Clarke develops a theory involving the conversion of a human into bytes of computer information that can be transmitted across space.

Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke

Short Stories

Clarke's worlds must begin somewhere. Many of Clarke's short stories have influenced his larger works. His short story ''Guardian Angel'' inspired his novel Childhood's End. ''Sons of a Distant Earth'' inspired a novel of the same name, where humans live on another planet, create a utopia, and then are visited from Earth, as the planet is nearing its demise. The short story ''Deep Range'' prompted Clarke to explore a sub-mariner's experiences capturing a sea monster further in his novel of the same name. Perhaps the largest inspiration has been his short story ''The Sentinel,'' which inspired the creation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Perhaps Clarke's best-known work is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was made into a movie of the same name. This work begins the Odyssey series. There are four books in the series, published between 1968 through 1997. The series involves space exploration with increased technologies, like Hal, the super computer that seems to outwit human progress. Human and technological follies and successes encapsulate much of the series' focus. Explorations become more complicated with a space race between countries and the introduction of alien life as the series progresses.

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