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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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Alien Encounters

Alien Encounters

(p.93) Chapter 6 Alien Encounters
Arthur C. Clarke

Gary Westfahl

University of Illinois Press

While fascinated by aliens, this chapter explains, Clarke only occasionally depicts alien encounters, which are unlikely due to the universe’s size and age. Instead, science fiction stories involve humans discovering evidence of ancient aliens or signs of emerging alien intelligences. Clarke avoids engaging in world building, preferring planets investigated by scientists as settings, and his aliens typically are genuinely alien in both their physiology and psychology. In Clarke’s major novels about aliens they remain unseen. In 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and its sequels, aliens made of energy initially seem omnipotent, though sequels increasingly emphasize their flaws and limitations. The aliens of Rendezvous with Rama (1973) are even more mysterious and defy human efforts to understand their enormous space habitat and the purpose for its visit.

Keywords:   Clarke, Arthur C., science fiction, aliens, ancient aliens, world building, planets, space habitat, 2001: A Space Odyssey

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