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From our files: Arthur C. Clarke on space exploration

The science fiction writer died today in Sri Lanka.

March 20, 2008

In 1977, the MONITOR covered this talk and rare U.S. visit by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who died today. In his remarks he addresses topics from the applications of space exploration to his desire to ride the space shuttle.

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'2001' Author and Tropic Isle

By Douglas Starr
Special to The Christian Science Monitor

From the December 14, 1977 edition of the Monitor

BOSTON - The white-faced man with the shining blue eyes steps to the podium. He stoops a bit, yet walks with a springy youthful step. His ready smile is mischievous, flashing

"Forty years ago I was one of a bunch of crazy Englishmen who used to meet several times a month in London pubs and talk about ways of going to the moon," he begins. And for the next hour he takes us on a journey to the shores of outer space…

Arthur C. Clarke paid a rare visit to the United States recently to receive the Washburn Award, given by the Boston Museum of Science for an outstanding contribution to the public's understanding of science. Mr. Clarke adds it to a collection: the Ballantine medal of the Franklin Institute: the UNESCO-Kalinga Prize; the International Fantasy Award; the AAAS-Westinghouse Science Writing Award; the Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell awards, and many others.  

Science and science fiction writer, he's produced more than 500 articles, stories and books. He collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on the film '2001: A Space Odyssey." His most recent book, "The View From Serendip,' came out a few weeks ago. His next, "The Fountains of Paradise," is due to reach his publisher in December on his 60th birthday.


Born in the seaside town of Minehead, Somerset, England, Mr. Clarke's interest in science was aroused when his father gave him a postcard of a dinosaur. For two years he was absorbed by fossils, then, at the age of 12, he switched to astronomy. 'I spent my nights mapping the moon until I knew my way around it better than my native Somerset," Mr. Clarke once said.

In London, Mr. Clarke worked as a government auditor, writing science articles and science fiction in his spare time. He joined the British Interplanetary Society, that 'bunch of crazy Englishmen." The Society's membership included one George Bernard Shaw – attracted by a paper Mr. Clarke had written.