2001: A Space Odyssey | Study Guide

Arthur C. Clarke

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Arthur C. Clarke | Biography


British author Arthur Charles Clarke was born December 16, 1917. He developed a love for astronomy and for science fiction at an early age, but his hopes of receiving a university education were put on hold because of financial difficulties following the death of his father. While still in his teens, Clarke moved to London in search of a job.

In London he landed a government job to pay the bills, but his heart was still with the stars. As a member of the British Interplanetary Society, an organization that promotes aeronautics and the exploration of space, he began writing and publishing both nonfiction articles and fictional stories about space travel. When World War II broke out, Clarke served with the Royal Air Force, gaining practical understanding of the technical aspects of flight in the process. He continued to write both fiction and nonfiction after the war, even as he attended King's College, graduating with degrees in math and physics.

He began publishing longer works in the 1950s. His first book was Interplanetary Flight, a nonfiction work published in 1950. It was quickly followed by the 1951 Prelude to Space. By 1954 he was becoming well known in the science fiction world, and he partnered with budding filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to write the story of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which they planned to make into both a novel and a film. The movie was released in 1968, with the novel following by a few months. Both were very successful, and Kubrick and Clarke even received an Academy Award nomination for the film. The novel had three sequels, one of which was made into a movie.

Clarke won several awards for his science fiction, and he was also honored in other ways. He was a television commentator for the real-life space missions Apollo 11, Apollo 13, and Apollo 15 and was knighted in 1998. He established the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, which honors British writers of science fiction. Throughout his long life he continued to write novels, television shows, and works of nonfiction. He died on March 19, 2008.

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