My Top Five Science Fiction Authors #3: Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke, CBE (1917-2008), one of the “Big Three” science fiction authors (with Asimov and Heinlein), is most famous for his 2001: A Space Odyssey, written in conjunction with the Stanley Kubrick film. Clarke, probably moreso than Asimov or Heinlein, contributed to science through papers as well as his fiction, and in the long run this may be the majority of his legacy.
2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the most important science fiction works of all time; many consider the film to be the best science fiction film ever made. However, what is not widely known is that both the book and the screenplay were co-written between Clarke and Kubrick; Kubrick had a much larger hand in the book than is thought, but the idea is essentially Clarke’s.
As a predictor of the future, Clarke is seemingly unmatched among his colleagues. While the idea of the geostationary satellite is not his, Clarke popularized the idea that they could be good communications relays. He also published a book in 1962 called Profiles of the Future, which included a series of essays for various magazines in which he attempted to predict the near future as it pertained to science and scientific discovery. While he, of course, got many things wrong, he was also correct in a good many areas, and the book has been updated and reprinted multiple times.
Clarke was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1986 and in 1989 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his work in Sri Lanka, where he lived for the latter half of his life.