Clarke was right about sci-fi ideas: Reverie

I’m working my way through:

Clarke, Arthur Charles. 2002. The collected stories of Arthur C. Clarke. New York: Tom Doherty Associates. Find in a library.

I thought it would be fun to highlight stories or commentary from this volume that I believe hold up well.

I start with Reverie, an essay written in 1939, which refutes the idea “All the ideas in science fiction have been used up!” His first argument is that even if all the ideas in science fiction were used up, that shouldn’t bother anyone. He argues that all the ideas in general fiction had been used up for centuries, but no one was afraid of that. As long as you have an individual way of treating a commonplace idea and good characterization, all will be well no matter the genre. I agree.

Clarke then argues that science fiction is in no danger of running out of ideas, stating “As long as science advances, as long as mathematics discovers incredible worlds where two and two would never dream of equaling four; so new ideas will come tumbling into the mind of anyone will let his thoughts wander, passport in hand, along the borders of Possibility.” Given that he was writing in 1939, I think history has proven him write.

If you ignore the examples of authors and stories that he gives to prove that science fiction is still fresh, this essay could have been written yesterday. Despite being a fan of science fiction from 1930s forwards, none of Clarke’s examples rang a bell for me. Without using Google, do any of the examples ring a bell for you?

Stories

  • The smile of the the Spinx
  • The human termites
  • Sinister barrier

Authors

  • Weinbaum
  • Fearn
  • Keller
  • Stapledon
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