Arthur C. Clarke - Playboy Collection

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TxAM-CRS C000157

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Arthur C. Clarke - Playboy Collection


  • 1960-1971 (Creation)


1 Box

Name of creator


Biographical history

Sir Arthur C. Clarke is widely regarded as one of the best of the science fiction and science writers of the 20th century. He was born in Somerset, England on December 16, 1917. During World War II Clarke served as a radar specialist and instructor with the Royal Air Force, an experience that contributed to his early interest in communications technology. After being demobilized from the RAF after the war with the rank of First Lieutenant, Clarke attended King's College London, where he obtained a first-class degree in mathematics and physics.

Clarke was the Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) from 1946-1947, and it was as a member of the BIS in 1945 that he wrote a paper (later that year published in Wireless World) suggesting the idea that geostationary satellites could be used as telecommunications relays. For this insight, Clarke has been generally credited with inventing the concept of satellite communication. (As a tribute to Clarke's contributions in this field, the International Astronomical Union has officially named the geostationary orbit of 22,000 miles above the equator the "Clarke Orbit.")

Over the course of his career, Clarke wrote a number of works of nonfiction promoting science for a popular audience, especially the idea of space travel, starting in 1950 with Interplanetary Flight: An Introduction to Astronautics. Other scientific works of Clarke include The Exploration of the Moon (1951), The View From Serendip (1977), and How The World Was One (1992).

However, Clarke's fame derives largely from his storied career as a science fiction writer. His first sale as a professional writer was the short story "Loophole", which appeared in Astounding Science Fiction in April 1946. This story was the first of over one hundred stories that Clarke produced in the course of his career. The most famous of these was probably "The Sentinel," published in 1948. This story was not only the basis for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey (which was filmed concurrently with Clarke's novel of the same name), but was the first of Clarke's works to display a common theme in his work, that of humanity being watched over by an unknowable cosmic intelligence.

Clarke's first novel was Against the Fall of Night (1948), which had originally been serialized in Startling Stories, appeared in book form in 1953, and was later expanded and revised as The City and The Stars in 1956. Childhood's End, probably his most famous novel, was published in 1953. It tells the story of a future Earth in which peace and order have been instituted after a friendly invasion by the mysterious alien race nicknamed the "Overlords". Over time Overlord rule results in the accelerated evolution of humanity into a new, transcendent form of life.

Clarke's other novels include, among others, the 2001 sequence: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), 2010: Odyssey Two (1982), 2061: Odyssey Three (1987), and 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997); the Rama sequence: Rendezvous with Rama (1972), Rama II (1989), The Garden of Rama (1991), and Rama Revealed (1993), the last three co-written with Gentry Lee; The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), and The Hammer of God (1993). His novels and stories earned Clarke a lasting literary reputation that has placed him in many eyes as one of the "Big Three" of Science Fiction, together with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein.

Clarke was married to Marilyn Mayfield for six months in 1953, their divorce was finalized in 1964, and he never remarried. He moved from Great Britain to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1956. where he lived until his death on March 19, 2008, in Columbo, Sri Lanka.

Over the years, Clarke gathered numerous honors, including a Hugo Award in 1956 (for the short story "The Star") and again in 1974, the 1961 UNESCO-Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, the Nebula Award, the SFWA Grand Master award in 1986 and the 2004 Heinlein Award. He was named a Science Fiction Grand Master in1985 by the Science Fiction Writers of America, a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1997. In 2000 Clarke received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

This collection consists of materials related to Arthur C. Clarke's sales of stories and other pieces to Playboy Magazine. The collection includes a group of 27 typed letters and 7 autograph letters, mainly between Clarke and editor A. G. Spectorksy, internal Playboy memoranda, and correspondence from Playboy. Also included are typescripts (marked as setting copy) for 4 short works of fiction and 8 nonfiction pieces by Clarke.

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These materials are stored offsite and require additional time for retrieval.

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Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

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  • English

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Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Cushing Library. All rights reserved.

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