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Arthur C. Clarke$
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Gary Westfahl

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252041938

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252041938.001.0001

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Marvelous Machines

Marvelous Machines

(p.30) Chapter 3 Marvelous Machines
Arthur C. Clarke

Gary Westfahl

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explains that although Clarke valued new technology, his stories regularly cast inventors and inventions in a negative light. Evidenced by the club stories in Tales from the White Hart (1957), the motives of his science fiction inventors are usually questionable; their machines frequently malfunction, or have undesirable side effects; and even when functioning properly, inventions can be misused. After long periods of development, machines may be perfected but can become useless or succumb to the ravages of time. These concerns figure in Clarke’s only novel focused on a new machine, The Fountains of Paradise (1979), wherein an engineer’s ego drives him to construct a space elevator; mishaps plague its construction; and the device is eventually abandoned when a climate change renders Earth uninhabitable.

Keywords:   Clarke, Arthur C., science fiction, club stories, technology, inventors, inventions, machines, space elevator, climate change

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