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Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography (A Bantam spectra book) Paperback – February 1, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Scientist and grand master of the genre ( 2001: A Space Odyssey) Clarke has given us a memoir of his youth. It centers on three editors, Harry Bates, F. Orlin Tremaine, and John W. Campbell, who created the magazine now known as Analog (until 1960 it was called Astounding Science Fiction ). Clarke gives his reaction to the writers and illustrators who first aroused his interest in science fiction. The scientific ferment of the 1930s and the 1940s is related to the ideas of the period and to the author's work in rocketry and radar. A sweeping view of popular science and popular fiction.
- Katherine Thorp, St. Louis Univ. Lib.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; 1st Thus. edition (February 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553348221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553348224
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,871,355 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"SIR ARTHUR C. CLARKE (1917-2008) wrote the novel and co-authored the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. He has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and he is the only science-fiction writer to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. His fiction and nonfiction have sold more than one hundred million copies in print worldwide.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on November 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps it is inaccurate to call this an autobiography. A good portion of it (particularly the first part of the book) is Arthur critiquing the early issues of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Later, he tells quite a bit about his own life, but mostly this is a memoir of his experiences with Astouding. It is interesting for several reasons: first, we learn what Clarke thinks of a great many of his colleagues (including heavies like Asimov and Heinlein, both friends of Arthur's). But what makes the book really interesting for the hard-core ACC reader is later in the book where he tells a lot about his own life. We learn of his experiences at college, as a civil servant, and his time in the military. We also get a lot of his views and ideas on many things relating to science, as well as a good deal he says about his own subsequent books, the ideas behind them, and how the writing of other authors influenced him. And of course the book is all written in Clarke's trademark witty style.
This will all seem very boring for the casual Clarke reader, or for those who only know him as "that guy who did 2001". But for those true fans who recognize Arthur for what he is, a brilliant, creative, and witty writer who is unquestionably one of the literary greats of the 20th century, and possibly the greatest science fiction writer of all-time. The only thing about this book that disappoints me is that ACC elaborates so little on his own works for Astounding. I figured that would be the main point of the book, but it isn't; although he mentions many times his works, they are rarely the ones found in Astounding. Still, this is a worthwhile and book for the Clarke devotee; casual fans should look elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Edward J. Tabler on June 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
I remember walking into a science fiction book store while visiting New York City in 1984. A crowd had gathered around an older gentleman who wore a silver flight jacket. At first I thought it was only a local geek smoffing off, but when he turned around, I saw that he was none other than Arthur C. Clarke, there to promote the release of 2010. I was reminded of this incident when reading Astounding Days, Clake's memoirs of his long love affair with the premier American SF magazine of the 1930s and 1940s. It is written in a very conversational style with the author tossing off asides in every direction with no sense of writing discipline, much like he surely did that day long ago. Clarke was fortunate to have come of age just as Astounding was making its debut. Many of its stories would go on to become classics. He makes special mention of the 1934 issues. Then, the reader was treated to the serialization in succeeding issues of Jack Williamson's The Legion of Space, "Doc" Smith's Skylark of Valeron, and John W. Campbell's The Mightiest Machine. I remember being similarly blown away when I happened to open up the bound volume of that year's issues while browsing through the stacks at the University of Illinois Library. Clarke reminiscences on many of the writers and stories published in Astounding that made an impression on him during those years including H.P. Lovecaft, Stanley Weinbaum, Ray Cummings, Robert Heinlein, A.E. VanVogt--as well as many lesser known works that have not stood the test of time. One interesting tidbit is his aside that Astounding magazines typically reached Britain in those days as ballast on freighters. Interspersed with this discussion of the stories are his memoirs of growing up as a young fan in prewar England and involvement in such SF groups as the British Interplanetary Society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter King on November 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is a delight, but only likely to interest those with either an interest in the early history of AstoundingStories/ Astounding Science Fiction, the trailblazing pulp, or in the life and thoughts of Arthur C. Clarke. I bought my copy on the recommendation of Bud Webster in his excellent “Past Masters” as I had already really enjoyed another suggestion of his, Frederik Pohl’s “The Way The Future Was”.

Arthur takes the reader through the early years of Astounding from the first issue of January 1930 as far as the end of World War II, while giving some autobiographical notes of the parallel progress of his own life from age twelve to twenty seven. In truth there is much more about Astounding than there is autobiography, but what personal details are given are always very readable, for instance his rural childhood, working in the civil service (“I was usually able to do all my work in an hour or so, and devote the rest of the day to more important business”), and his role in the British Interplanetary Society.

He focuses more than I had anticipated on the science in the science fiction and to what extent it was spot on, strangely prescient, or ridiculously off-beam. Usually I’d expect to find this material dull, but Arthur has such a lightness of touch in his writing style, and makes the complex sufficiently simple, that I was never bored. Among many examples, I was surprised to learn that as early as August 1941 Astounding had anticipated the development of the atomic bomb, and that following the March 1944 issue the FBI paid the editor, John W. Campbell, a visit, suspecting a security leak. In another example, I was also amazed to read that as recently as 1952 “no British observer” believed in “the meteor theory of lunar craters”.
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