Credited as being one of the ‘Big Three’ science fiction writers during his lifetime, Arthur C Clarke is noted as being a ‘scientific’ science fiction writer, whose contributions to the genre are considered ground breaking. His first novel, After the Fall of Night (1948) cemented his reputation as a writer whose attention to scientific accuracy made him intensely popular.
Interestingly, although Clarke was established as an eminent figure in the strand of the genre known as ‘hard’ science fiction and whilst many of his novels fall under this category, as his career developed, his work extended these parameters, offering an optimistic view of science which was portrayed in novels such as Childhood’s End (1953) – a utopian offering – and Rendezvous With Rama (1972) as a means of advancing the human race to the next stage of its evolution. In these works, science is seen as a tool for the empowerment of the humans which can advance our understanding.
Another of his particular fields of interest was space travel and the idea of exploring odysseys near and far, something which would expand in his later life to an interest in undersea exploration. One of Clarke’s most famous works was written on the theme of exploring far off galaxies, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) which was later adapted into a successful film which demonstrates his aptitude for mixing ‘hard’ sci-fi with ideas of utopian optimism.
In addition to winning numerous awards for his own work including The Hugo Award, in an effort to encourage new science fiction writers, Clarke became the patron of the Arthur C Clarke Foundation which supports science fiction writers who are just starting out and also established the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction writing, which is awarded annually in the UK, all in an effort to promote the evolution of the genre.