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Profiles of the Future Paperback – March, 1985

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About the Author

Artur C. Clarke was born in 1917. He has been writing science fiction since the late 40's. His seventieth birthday, in December 1987, was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at his birthplace in Somerset; he was knighted in 1998 for his services to literature, shortly after his eightieth birthday, the first science fiction writer to be thus honoured. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Warner Books; 1st edition (March 1985)
  • ISBN-10: 0445040610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0445040618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,315,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"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.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on April 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
As Clarke says in the introduction to this book, he is not, in it, trying to predict the future per se, but rather defining the boundaries in which all possible futures must lie. Hence the subtitle, "An Inquiry Into The Limits of the Possible." Thus, even though the book was published in 1962 (with many of the articles written before that) subsequent advances in science (and indeed, in imagination itself) have dated it very little. On top of this, there is now a new Millennium Edition of the book out (although Amazon seems not to know of it's existence) in which ACC has updated his essays, making correction where necessary, and discussing when and where he went wrong, and mentioning when he was correct. On some topics, such as, unsurprisingly, satellite communications, he is almost dead-on accurate with the events that have occurred since the book was written. However, on the other end of the spectrum, on such subjects as future transportation methods, he was quite clearly off target. He is the first to admit this, and indeed, devotes two chapters of the book to "Hazards of Prophecy." Perhaps the most interesting chapter is "The Obolescence of Man" in which Clarke waxes thoughtful on the future relationship between Man and Machine. It leads to some rather startling conclusions that many of the more self-important among us may be reluctant to accept. There is also a chart in the back of the book where Arthur lays out the major scientific advances of the last 150 years, and his predictions up to the year 2100. In these are such seemingly optimistic predictions as weather control by 2010 and IMMORTALITY BY 2100. The more conservative among us may be keen to laugh at such statements, but remember, this is the man who talked of broadcasting satellite TV IN 1945. Arthur is not one to be taken lightly, and this book shows why.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Julian Gardiner on March 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In this book Arthur C. Clarke considers the future development of human technology, focusing on the ultimate limits of what is possible rather than on what the near future is likely to bring. Originally published in 1962, Clarke has added comments where developments have substantially modified his earlier views. He addresses a wide range of questions: transport, colonising space, novel sources of energy, artificial intelligence, a universal machine that can produce any specified artefact, as well as more fanciful possibilities such as time-travel, teleportation, and invisibility. He suggests we should be slow to pronounce anything "impossible" as the technology of the future may be as hard for us to imagine as ours would have been for people of earlier ages. (He also quotes a number of "authorities" who denied the possibility of heavier than air flight or the rocket shortly before they became realities!) Sadly, my enjoyment of this book was somewhat spoiled by Clarke's style which is inclined to be rather laboured and pompous. A pity, as this is otherwise a first rate read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a reissue of the original book which came out in 1962, containing essays by the author which were published in various other venues over the years, if I remember right. Although best known as a science fiction writer, Clarke wrote prodigiously in the field of nonfiction as well, was the inventor of the communications satellite concept, collaborated on several nature films on the Mediterannean with a friend, and was an invited commentator for the Apollo moon landing. Fans of his fiction may notice the similarity between the speculations contained in this book and two of his novels about the far future, Against the Fall of Night, and The City and the Stars (basically a later and rewritten version of the earlier book).

In these essays, Clarke engages in some of his most entertaining and far-reaching speculations on the future of science and technology and how that will affect man and society in the future. Very little of the science is dated despite it being over 40 years since the book came out. Various topics are covered, such as communications, computers, shipping and transport, and my favorite was the last chapter, The Obsolescence of Man. Clarke suspects humans will eventually be made "obsolete" by advances in science and medicine, with machines doing everything, better, faster, and cheaper, despite the extension of the human lifespan.

By the way, as of a few years ago when I visited his website once, Clarke was still travelling and speaking, despite being confined to a wheelchair because of a recent medical problem, and answering fan mail on his website. Truly one of the giants of science fiction, Clarke is most remembered for the movie, 2001, but his novel, Childhood's End, published about ten years earlier, would be my pick for the top sci-fi novel of all time.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Arsov on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Arthur C. Clarke

Profiles of the Future

Indigo, Paperback, 2000.
8vo. ix+211 pp. Millennium Edition. New Foreword by the author, April 1999 [pp. 1-3]. Introduction by the author, 1999 [pp. 5-8].

First published, 1962.
Second Revised Edition, 1973.
Third Revised Edition, 1982.
Millennium Edition, 1999.


Foreword to Millennial Edition

1. Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Nerve*
2. Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination*
3. The Future of Transport
4. Riding on Air
5. Beyond Gravity
6. The Quest For Speed
7. World Without Distance
8. Rocket to the Renaissance*
9. You Can't Get There From Here
10. Space, the Unconquerable*
11. About Time
12. Ages of Plenty
13. Aladdin's Lamp
14. Invisible Men, and Other Prodigies
15. The Road to Lilliput
16. Brain and Body
17. The Obsolescence of Man*
18. The Long Twilight

Chart of the Future

* Reprinted in Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999), but mostly in their 1962 versions which are sometimes distinctly different.


It is not for nothing that Arthur Clarke once described Profiles of the Future as "what might be my most important work of non-fiction". The publication history certainly justifies such formidable description. The book started, innocently enough, as a series of essays for Playboy in 1961. The next year they were collected in book form, and so successful the volume became that it was later thrice revised for new editions: 1972, 1983 and, finally, 1999.
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