Cover image for Greetings, carbon-based bipeds! : collected essays, 1934-1998
Greetings, carbon-based bipeds! : collected essays, 1934-1998
Clarke, Arthur C. (Arthur Charles), 1917-2008.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 558 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
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Q113 .C54 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the definitive work of his brilliant career, Arthur C. Clarke has collected his most prophetic nonfiction essays, lucidly demonstrating that he not only anticipated many of the 20th century's greatest scientific innovations, but he in fact helped to shape the path to come.

From predicting the future role of geosynchronous satellites in his early pieces in the 1940s, to his groundbreaking reporting from The Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, to anticipating the Internet literally decades before it happened, Clarke has acted as both technological prophet and cultural conscience.

Arranged chronologically by decade, Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! is inarguably the crowning achievement of an unrivalled personal odyssey.

Author Notes

Arthur C. Clarke was born in Minehead, Somerset, England, on December 16, 1917. During World War II, he served as a radar specialist in the RAF. His first published piece of fiction was Rescue Party and appeared in Astounding Science, May 1946. He graduated from King's College in London with honors in physics and mathematics, and worked in scientific research before turning his attention to writing fiction.

His first book, Prelude to Space, was published in 1951. He is best known for his book 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was later turned into a highly successful and controversial film under the direction of Stanley Kubrick. His other works include Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama, The Garden of Rama, The Snows of Olympus, 2010: A Space Odyssey II, 2062: Odyssey III, and 3001: The Final Odyssey. During his lifetime, he received at least three Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards. He died of heart failure on March 19, 2008 at the age of 90.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Clarke, one of the best-known science fiction writers, culls from 64 years of his nonfiction, most of it reviews, columns, tributes to colleagues and others, opinion pieces, and other journalism. The majority of the 110 selections in the fat volume are quite short, and their subjects are quite diverse. The selections are presented chronologically by decade of first publication, from the '30s and '40s (two decades' work gathered into one section) through the '90s, and three new essays on, respectively, the interaction of science and society, communications after the TV era, and what the twenty-first century will and may bring. Clarke introduces each decade's work and often annotates particular pieces. Since he is who he is, there is a sizable audience curious to read his assessments of an sf classic like When Worlds Collide, of the career of Robert A. Heinlein, of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, of Carl Sagan, etc., etc. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though best known as the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke has been a scientist and writer of nonfiction for almost two-thirds of a century. This collection is organized chronologically by decade, affording the reader insights into Clarke's odyssey from gifted amateur to cultural icon. In his essays, Clarke promotes the notion that science fiction's role should be inspirational rather than informative, but that science itself is merely a tool to serve the higher ends of humankind. Clarke retains uncommon sense regarding scientific pursuits: "We must not mistake ever-increasing scientific knowledge with `progress,' however that is defined." Part of the Clarke legend springs from how much of our technology and its cultural effects he has foreseen. Included here is a 1945 paper that Clarke calls "the most important thing I ever wrote," in which he invented the idea of geosynchronous satellites for telecommunications. Despite the length of Clarke's career, his language, like his thinking, is always fresh, even contemporary. When he critiques New Age believers, he does so because "their New Age is exactly the opposite, a thousand years past its sale date." As a whole, this collection provides an island of promise for those who fear technological disaster in their future, and a look into the mind of one of the leading intellectual lights of this half century. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Written over seven decades, these essays by Clarke, most famous for his sf novels (e.g., 2001: A Space Odyssey), cover a range of science topicsÄespecially space exploration. Arranged chronologically with an introduction by Clarke for each decade, they provide a kind of eyewitness history of how the scientific community's dreams and hopes changed over the course of the 20th century. The book isn't a detailed accounting of events but a scholar's reflections. It is interesting to see where scientific vision has been mistaken over the yearsÄand even more interesting to see how often the vision was correct. Recommended for academic libraries supporting history of science programs and for large public libraries.ÄWilliam Baer, Brigham Young Univ. Lib., Provo, UT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.