Clarke, Arthur C. (1917– )
Famous British science fiction author and technologist credited
with originating the concept of communication satellites.
Clarke has also presented two television series on paranormal
phenomena. He was born December 16, 1917, in Minehead,
Somersetshire, England, and was educated at King’s College,
University of London (B.Sc., 1948). He had previously been an
auditor in the British Civil Service (1936–44) and a radar instructor
in the Royal Air Force (1941–46), retiring as a flight
lieutenant. After graduation he served as an assistant editor of
Science Abstracts (1949–50). He began freelance writing in 1951
and has since turned out numerous nonfiction and science fiction
books such as, Childhood’s End, and Rendezvous with Rama.
He was selected to chair the Second International Astronautics
Congress in London, 1951.
Clarke has received many important awards for his science
fiction writing and his scientific contributions, including the
Stuart Ballantine Gold Medal from the Franklin Institute in
1963 for his concept of communications satellites, the Robert
Ball Award from the Aviation-Space Writers Association in
1965 for best aerospace reporting of the year, and the Westinghouse
Science Writing Award from the American Association
for the Advancement of Science in 1969.
Clarke became internationally famous for his screenplay
(with Stanley Kubrick) for the film 2001 A Space Odyssey, which
received the Second International Film Festival special award
in 1969 and an Academy Award nomination from the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1969).
With such a background of scientific fact and fiction,
Clarke’s investigation of claimed paranormal phenomena was
of special interest. He was coauthor with Simon Welfare and
John Fairley of two important television series Arthur C.
Clarke’s Mysterious World (1980) and Arthur C. Clarke’s World of
Strange Powers (1984), both presented on British television and
later aired on programs in the United States and other countries.
The series was supported by books containing additional
material not in the television programs. In both books and television
programs, Clarke and his collaborators express a considerable
skepticism, although granting a limited probability to
certain claimed paranormal phenomena such as apparitions,
maledictions, poltergeists, telepathy, stigmata, and fire walking.
However, the great value of books and programs lay in the
scrutiny of recent phenomena instead of simply a rehash of old
material, and in the television programs rare early movie records
of phenomena were shown together with recently filmed
events. Both books and television programs therefore constitute
a useful record of research, and even their skepticism is a
healthy corrective to overcredulous writing and filming on the
paranormal.
Sources
Clarke, Arthur C. Ascent to Orbit A Scientific Autobiography.
New York John Wiley, 1984.
———. Childhood’s End. New York Ballantine, 1953.
———. The Ghost from the Grand Banks. London V. Gollancz,
1990.
———. Profiles of the Future An Inquiry Into the Limits of the
Possible. New York Holt Rinehart, and Winston, 1984.
———. Rama Revealed. London, Gollancz and New York
Bantam, 1993.
———. Rendezvous with Rama. London, Gollancz and New
York Harcourt Brace, 1973.
Fairley, John. Arthur Clarks’ World of Strange Powers. New
York G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1984.