On Becoming a Science Fiction Intellectual -- Arthur C. Clarke

On Becoming a Science Fiction Intellectual

As a lover of science and all things intellectual, I have always wanted to fall in love with science fiction. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I have yet to find a Sci Fi series that has captivated me.

I came across a phenomenal text, serving as in-depth case study of the works by Arthur C. Clarke.

This was a marvelous way to step into a world I have always wanted to experience. Better still, I was able to learn more about this 'modern master of science fiction'.

Arthur C. Clarke
Series: Modern Masters of Science Fiction
Gary Westfahl
Publisher:University of Illinois Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 224 pages
Genre: Literary Criticism

Already renowned for his science fiction and scientific nonfiction, Arthur C. Clarke became the world's most famous science fiction writer after the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He then produced novels like Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise that many regard as his finest works. Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke's remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke's science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity's destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke's characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.

Thoughts on the text

This was a great book for me. Not written as a conventional biographical sketch, the text was an exploration, better described as an intellectual case study, of Arthur's works. As with most scholarly tests, Westfahl began with a well-written thesis. This was by far my favorite portion of the text. Of note, Westfahl, by far, met each objective he set forth.

Admittedly, I have never read any of Clarke's work; therefore, all of the material was new to me. I rather enjoyed the author's exploration of various plots, including spoilers. (NOTE: I love spoilers. I don't necessarily read to find out what happened. I read to enjoy the words.)

This phenomenal case study would be a wonderful read for those who wish to become Sci Fi authors or who love Sci Fi and wish to delve deeper into the psyche of one of the most esteemed Sci Fi authors. Moreover, this is an excellent text for college literature courses.

About Gary

Voluminous, contrarian, methodical and learned, Gary Westfahl is a central figure in SF criticism.
His numerous articles and reviews have appeared in Science Fiction Studies, Extrapolation, Science Fiction Eye, SFRA Newsletter, Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, and Monad: Essays on Science Fiction, among others.In the late 1990s, Westfahl became a regular columnist for Interzone, producing 36 columns. In 2001, he began to contribute film reviews and essays to the website Locus Online.Recent books include The Other Side of the Sky: An Annotated Bibliography of Space Stations in Science Fiction, 1869-1993 (2009), The Spacesuit Film: A History, 1918-1969 (2012), and the author study William Gibson (2013).Westfahl received the Pilgrim Award in 2003 for lifetime contributions to SF and fantasy scholarship.


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