Futurist thought for the day

Try as he may to argue that human history is only just beginning [Arthur] Clarke’s novels, like much British science fiction of the later twentieth century, can also be read as implying that the futures we imagine, however emotionally fulfilling, may be no more than some sort of deluded endgame. The aliens’ absence from the monuments they have built prefigures our own.

Patrick Parrinder, in his essay The Ruined Futures of British Science Fiction, arguing that Clarke’s view of the future is cognate with Wyndham, Ballard and Julian Barnes.

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One Comment on “Futurist thought for the day”

  1. monoceros4 Says:

    I can see it in CHILDHOOD’S END, possibly. Compare that book to 2001 and its nauseating sequels and CHILDHOOD’S END looks positively dystopian, almost as though Clarke were explicitly rejecting the sort of Teilhardish nonsense that he’d later seem to embrace: “You really think it’d be a great idea for humanity to ascend into the next stage of whatever and leave its puny mortal concerns behind? Sort of like…THIS? Are you happy now?” Honestly, the rest of Clarke’s work makes the desolate-feeling CHILDHOOD’S END look almost like an accident–either that or he didn’t mean it in the first place to seem desolate.

    The only other place it comes across is not in Clarke’s 2001 but Kubrick’s movie, whose tone is often so much at odds with the book’s that it’s hard to believe that they arose from the same collaboration.


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