Arthur C Clarke is a person that I can say definitely inspired into me a deep love of science fiction. As a child I was always intrigued by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
I didn’t watch the film I was older and I could understand the story line. Once I had, I was gripped (the film is brilliant and for effect stand up to today’s standards, even though it’s perhaps 50 years old), the story was brilliant and I wanted it to carry on.
I read the book, which gave me the story in a deeper dimension than the film. Clarke captured the loneliness and isolation of the space travellers as they carried out their everyday existence within the confines of their spacecraft. The terror that would have been felt as their computer (HAL) malfunctioned and and was intent on killing the crew and almost succeeding. The desperation and sheer persistence of a man determined to survive and shut down this computer, withstanding the vacuum of space for a brief time. All of this was captured in an easy language, clearly put across so you could picture every aspect of the story.
The the deep mysteries in the story are what intrigued me:
- Why had HAL malfunctioned and tried to kill the crew?
- What had become of Dave Bowman?
- What was/were the Monolith(s)?
- Who made the Monolith(s)?
Despite having gone through the whole story, these were still unanswered questions – I hoped there was more to come.
The story was a piece of art, not written to necessarily be a big money maker, but Arthur C Clarke’s vision of future space travel, his sense of mystery in the alien Monolith and how he thought computers would become. Despite the relative simplicity of his vision, most of them have not yet come true, man is not exploring the solar system in person, a computer like HAL has not yet been built. Put this into perspective – Star Trek technology is being chased and has been realised to much greater effect (I’m forgetting a faster than light drive when I say this). Many other sci-fi stories and films I’m a fan of are more about space wars, action and intense adventure. This story almost goes against the grain of popular novel writing. The story line progressed at a far more modest pace, no laser weapons, no wars or evil empires and yet still gripped me with it’s many dimensions.
The story carried on to the second book, 2010 Odyssey 2, again I watched the film and read the book. The story carried on, continuing where it left off, some things were answered but still with many questions, some old and some new, but with no ending just a another beginning of possibilities. Two other books carried on the story, even with the last one 3001 – The Final Odyssey was left with the possibility on continuing, many questions weren’t answered. The biggest questions on what the Monoliths were and who made them were still largely unanswered. Passing references were made to the mysterious alien race, but nothing more.
The intriguing way in which Arthur C Clarke wrote these books showed in his other books too, like Rendezvous with Rama and the Ghost from the Grand Banks. Many of the mysteries in reality don’t have a conclusion and he captured this very well. This is what I believe is the power behind his story writing, there always remained mystery or a story thread left for you. He gave the reader a part of his story to fill in with their own imagination, almost like giving them permission to finish in their own way.
The vision that Arthur C Clarke had and wrote in his stories were something that had never been seen before and will probably not be seen again for a long time. Like many genius’s he was a man out of his time. I hope that his vision extends far into the future to keep on inspiring not only writers, but the inventors, problem solvers and explorers that will come in generations to come.
Keep looking to the stars to inspire 🙂
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