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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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The Solitary Observer

The Solitary Observer

Chapter:
(p.149) Chapter 9 The Solitary Observer
Source:
Arthur C. Clarke
Author(s):

Gary Westfahl

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252041938.003.0010

This chapter argues that typical Clarke protagonists are not bland, but merely solitary and reticent men who primarily function as observers of events, not participants, as seen in Prelude to Space (1951) and elsewhere. After early stories about completely isolated individuals, Clarke’s science fiction increasingly explores ways for these men to ameliorate their loneliness, such as important tasks, close male friendships, connections to larger communities, and families that are far away but remain in touch. Perhaps perceiving that Stanley Kubrick reshaped the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) to criticize his characters as unemotional and unfulfilled, Clarke produced stories in the 1970s emphasizing that his characters, in 2001 and other works, are actually emotionally complex and perfectly content with their solitude.

Keywords:   Clarke, Arthur C., science fiction, observer, solitude, loneliness, friendships, communities, families

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