e-Book The Challenge of the Spaceship download

e-Book The Challenge of the Spaceship download

by Arthur c clarke

ISBN: 0671821393
ISBN13: 978-0671821395
Language: English
Publisher: Pocket (May 1, 1980)
Category: Astronomy and Space Science
Subategory: Math Science

ePub size: 1904 kb
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DJVU size: 1648 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 148
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In THE CHALLENGE OF THE SPACESHIP Arthur C. Clarke speculates on the changes that will come in our own generation - the first generation to break away from the limitations of our own planet - and predicts some of the astonishing scientific developments that will inevitably come i. .

In THE CHALLENGE OF THE SPACESHIP Arthur C. Clarke speculates on the changes that will come in our own generation - the first generation to break away from the limitations of our own planet - and predicts some of the astonishing scientific developments that will inevitably come in future centuries. Among these will be manned spaceships traveling at speeds of more than 1,000,000 .

The following is a list of works by Arthur C. Clarke. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). 2010: Odyssey Two (1982) (Hugo and Locus Awards nominee, 1983). 2061: Odyssey Three (1987). 3001: The Final Odyssey (1997). Rendezvous with Rama (Hugo and Nebula Award) (1972) (BSFA and Nebula Awards winner, 1973; Hugo, Campbell, and Locus Awards winner, 1974). Rama II (1989) (with Gentry Lee). The Garden of Rama (1991) (with Gentry Lee). Rama Revealed (1993) (with Gentry Lee). Time's Eye (2003) (with Stephen Baxter).

Legendary science fiction icon Arthur C. Clarke, who in recent years has . The spaceship that carries the cradle is manned by robots/cyborgs & has hidden itself on the ocean floor to make repairs. Clarke, who in recent years has cowritten The Trigger with Michael Kube-McDowell and several Rama novels with Gentry Lee (Rama II, Garden of Rama, Rama Revealed) collaborates here for the first time with British author Stephen Baxter (Moonseed, Voyage, Titan, and Manifold Time) on a powerful, near-future speculative story of our world on the brink. Duncan's initial challenge is to prepare, physically and intellectually, for the 500-million-mile trip to Earth.

Arthur C. Clarke’s 1946 essay on ‘The Challenge of the Spaceship’ was one of the founding manifestoes of the Space . Clarke’s 1946 essay on ‘The Challenge of the Spaceship’ was one of the founding manifestoes of the Space Age, and helped to establish him as the West’s leading techno-prophet. Restating his ideas in subsequent factual and fictional works, Clarke successfully propagated the belief that man’s destiny lay in space and that the process was already underway.

THE COLLECTED STORIES Arthur C. Clarke CONTENTS Cover Title Praise Also by Arthur C. Clarke Foreword Travel by Wire! . The Challenge of the Spaceship. Clarke Foreword Travel by Wire! How We Went to Mars Retreat From. The Exploration of the Moon.

See all books authored by Arthur C. Clarke, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Childhood's End, and more on ThriftBooks. Arthur C. Clarke has long been considered the greatest science fiction writer of all time. He was an international treasure in many other ways, including the fact that a 1945 article by him led to the invention of satellite technology. Books by Clarke - both fiction and nonfiction - have sold more than one hundred million copies worldwide. Series By Arthur C. Books By Arthur C. in General Broadcasting.

1958) A non fiction book by Arthur C Clarke. May 1980 : USA Paperback. Used availability for Arthur C Clarke's The Challenge of the Spaceship.

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke CBE FRAS (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host. He co-wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of the most influential films of all time. Clarke was a science writer who was an avid populariser of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability. He wrote over a dozen books and many essays for popular magazines

Space writers holiday. When a celebrated science fiction writer takes to space on his first trip to Mars, he's sure to be in for some heckling from the spaceship crew. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride

Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Space writers holiday. But Martin Gibson, man about space, takes it all in his stride. That is, until he lands.

Arthur C. Clarke

The Challenge of the Spaceship

Pocket Books, Paperback, 1980.
12mo, 222 pp. Introduction by the author [p. 9].

First published, 1959.
First Pocket Books printing, June 1980.


The Challenge of the Spaceship
Vacation in Vacuum*
Journey by Earthlight
So You're Going to Mars?*
The Planets Are Not Enough*
The Star of the Magi*
Where's Everybody?
The Sun
What Can We Do About the Weather?
Oh for the Wings...
Across the Sea of Stars*
Of Mind and Matter
Which Way Is Up?*
Report on Planet Three*
Question Time
Things in the Sky*
The Men on the Moon*
The Radio Universe
Of Space and the Spirit

* Reprinted in Report on Planet Three (1972).


There are some suspicious moments in the bibliographical history of this book. It is certain enough that it consists of Clarke's essays written for various magazines during the 1950s (except the eponymous piece which was an address delivered to the British Interplanetary Society in 1946, though it was later revised) and collected in book form for the first time in 1959. This makes perfect sense, of course, since the ''the main theme of this book is the impact of the coming Space Age upon our hitherto Earth-bound species''. However, there is some evidence that in 1961, a most momentous year in the history of Space Age, another edition came out which contained a ''Revised Preface''; whether or not there were any other revisions as well, remains elusive. The strangest thing of all is that the Pocket Books edition, published more than 20 years after the first one, contains the bold statement on the front cover ''Reviews of tomorrow's world completely revised and updated by the author''. Now this would have been wonderful - if the copyright page and, more importantly, internal evidence did not suggest that this complete revision and update had occurred back in the late 1950s, apparently while Clarke was collecting these pieces for their first appearance in book form.

Another curious bibliographical paradox is that no fewer than eleven of these essays, more than half of the book that is, were reprinted in another non-fiction book of Clarke 13 years later. The versions of these essays in Report on Planet Three (1972) are virtually unchanged, save for some short prefatory notes. Now if you want to have these pieces in one book only, the later volume is the one to obtain for it contains better bonuses. All the same, The Challenge of the Spaceship still makes a magnificently rich and rewarding read. Just about the most dated thing are few speculations about life on the Moon; at least that sounds rather more unlikely today than it did in the 1950s. Otherwise there is still a great deal to learn and profit from in these essays. To begin with, I would allow myself the monstrous liberty of quoting the Introduction complete. It is the finest review I can imagine:

"The main theme of this book is the impact of the coming Space Age upon our hitherto Earth-bound species. Looking past the immediate present, and ignoring both the occasional triumphs and more frequent failures of today's satellites and rocket probes, it attempts to view the conquest of space as part of a historical process. Except where they are essential to the argument, it is not in the least concerned with technical matters; it assumes that machines are less important than what men do with them - or what they do with men."

"Though the various examinations of the Man-Space relationship that follow look at the subject from different angles, some overlapping is inevitable and some is deliberate. I have tried to edit out all unnecessary repetition, but when a thing is really important it is worth saying more than once."

"Interleaved between these philosophical and cultural speculations are examples of straight science reporting, most of them from the pages of Holiday magazine. Sometimes, as in the trio of pieces giving helpful advice to interplanetary tourists, the reporting is not so straight. However, anyone who reads that book as a whole will be in little danger of confusing fact with fiction."

That's a fine example of saying a great deal with a very few words. (So much for Clarke's notorious repetitions, too.) The three pieces in the manner of tourist brochures are ''Vacation in Vacuum'', ''Journey by Earthlight'' and ''So You're Going to Mars?'; why the second one was not reprinted later in Report on Planet Three as well is difficult to imagine. All three essays are among Clarke's finest hybrids between fiction and non-fiction, daring speculation and popular science with mischievous touches thrown in for a good measure. The last sentence of the Introduction probably refers to a short note in the end of ''The Challenge of the Spaceship'' which prepares the reader for the hilarious stuff that follows. Certainly, however, nobody would have any trouble to distinguish fiction from non-fiction, though the prefatory note is very helpful indeed: without it, it might take few paragraphs to realise that you're reading a kind of interplanetary Baedeker - but published several decades after the first edition of the book you are holding, in times when Mars and the Moon bear the same relation to the English as Egypt and Italy today. Since ''Journey by Earthlight'' was not reprinted later, here is one favourite quote from it. Such poetry in prose, affecting yet shattering, is one of the things most characteristic of Clarke, one of the things, in fact, that put him in a class of his own. Here he describes the view from the ''dark side'' of the Moon; in other words, how the starry sky would change if you move from the sun-drenched lunar plains into the freezing shadow of a ''convenient rock'':

"Then, as your vision adapts itself and your pupils enlarge, you'll see the stars come out. First there will be the bright, familiar constellations, then the legions of their faint companions, until at the last the whole sky seems packed with glowing dust. All those countless points of light will be shining with a steady, unvarying radiance: none will twinkle or scintillate as they do in the clearest nights on Earth. Now you will understand why all great observatories are on the Moon: you will realize that, until he had climbed above the atmosphere of his own planet, no man had ever really seen the stars."

Think about that next time you're doing your regular dose of stargazing - and if you're a great Clarke admirer you sure do a lot of this neck-breaking sport. For a fine use in fiction of lunar astronomy and the twinkling stars from Earth's surface, see the almost unbearably poignant short stories ''Dog Star'' and ''If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth...'', respectively.

Now, what I have to say about the pieces reprinted in Report on Planet Three, I have said it in my attempt for review of this masterpiece; and what I think of the magnificent title essay, I have said in my reflections on the collection Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! (1999) where it is reprinted.

The rest of the pieces are all gems. The weakest is certainly ''Oh for the Wings...'', which attempts a thoroughly scientific discussion of the not-so-ludicrous-as-it-may-seem human flight powered by - muscular power. As it seems, this type of sport will remain in the realms of the highly impracticable ones for quite some time yet. ''What Can We Do About the Weather?'' deals with our rather feeble attempts to influence a largely unpredictable phenomenon. The most fascinating part of this essay is the one in which Clarke recalls his own wartime experience with the biggest installation of FIDO (Fog, Intense, Dispersal Of) ever built, one of the crudest methods to ''do something about the weather''. Yet the necessity was so strong, and the exorbitant cost so affordable, that those strange fellows, the British, actually did it. They burned some 100 000 gallons of gasoline per hour using approximately four to five miles of pipes with numerous burners attached to them. So the fog had no other chance but to retreat, and the RAF bombers could land safely. But let Arthur describe it in his inimitable way. No apology for the frequency and the length of quotations:

"At night, with the fog rolling in from the Atlantic, a FIDO operation was like a scene from Dante's Inferno. The roar of the flames filled the air and made speech difficult; they created such an updraft that small stones on the edge of the runway were picked up and tossed around by the air currents. As far as the eye could see, the yellow walls of fire, taller than a man, stretched away into the foggy night. The miles of burners were pumping heat into the air at the rate of 10 000 000 horsepower, cutting a long, narrow trench through the fog, down which the returning bombers could find their way to the ground."

"I have known nights when the fog was so thick that visibility was less than ten feet - but standing in the middle of the runway, with the flames roaring on either side, one could see the stars shining overhead. FIDO worked by brute force, and the development of radar made it obsolete; but it did show what could be done when incentive was sufficiently great - and expense was no object."

''The Sun'' is a typical piece of popular science, but of the type that only Clarke could write. And this is the most precious type, namely the one that makes you realise how little - if anything - you know about things that seem almost appallingly familiar and commonplace - such as the Sun. In fact, when viewed from the right angle, it is neither familiar nor commonplace. Indeed, it is awe-inspiring and, for all the enormous heat it radiates every second, it is a rather chilling object of contemplation. Clarke's vastly amusing opening is probably not so wide of the mark as he was hoped it would be:

"If Dr. Gallup were to ask a fair sample of the public the straightforward question: ''What is the nearest star?'' the replies would probably be something like this:

95% - ''How's that again?''
3% - ''Alpha Centauri''
2% - ''Proxima Centauri''

They would all be wrong, even the erudite 2% who knew that Proxima was a fraction of a light-year closer to Earth than its companion, Alpha. For the nearest star is - the Sun."

So how often do you think about this unspeakably boring and utterly familiar object that you, can see every day in the sky, provided it is not too cloudy and you have the right glasses to really see it? It has just occurred to me that I really should illustrate each piece by quotations only, sparing the putative reader my unfortunate attempts to write anything of any consequence. Consider these semi-random excerpts from ''The Sun'' and then tell me there is anything ''boring'' or ''familiar'' about the star to which we all owe our lives:

"As soon as fairly accurate measurements of the Sun's distance and size (diameter 864 000 miles - or a hundred times that of Earth) became available about three centuries ago, astronomers had a major problem on their hands, though just how major it was they didn't realize for another century. The amount of energy that Earth receives from the Sun is enormous; it is roughly equivalent to a one-kilowatt electric heater on every square yard of our planet's surface. But Earth itself intercepts only a minute fraction of the Sun's rays; most of the energy goes rushing past into space and is, from our admittedly self-centered point of view, completely wasted."

"Where does all that energy come from?"


"In the history of the world, there has been no more momentous quest than the search for that secret - uncannily foreshadowed in the legend of Prometheus, who brought fire from heaven to earth at the price of having his own body continually devoured."


"We now know that helium is the ash which is left when hydrogen is burnt in the atomic furnace of the Sun. But the type of ''burning'' that takes place in the Sun is as much fiercer than ordinary combustion as the flame of a blowtorch is warmer than the pale glow of a firefly. It is an atomic, not chemical, process, and takes place at temperatures of millions instead of thousands of degrees. The Sun's interior, in fact, is far too hot for fire, as we know it, to exist."

"The solar transmutation of hydrogen to helium, with its accompanying enormous release of energy, is a complex process involving several intermediate stages, and is quite different in detail from the reactions which take place in the H-bomb - though the final result is the same. The Sun also operates on a slightly larger scale; every second of time, some four million tons of matter are converted into raw energy. As the Department of Defense has unaccountably failed to answer my courteous letter asking for precise details of the H-bomb's composition, the following figure is only approximate, but will not be more than a zero astray in either direction. We would have to explode ten billion H-bombs every second if we wanted to equal the energy output of the Sun."

But for Clarke at his absolute and most provocative best you should go to his pieces of purely philosophical speculation. These are singularly shattering essays indeed. Skipping the repetitions with Report..., there are two here that will certainly reward close scrutiny: ''Of Mind and Matter'' and ''Of Space and the Spirit'', similarly titled yet vastly different. Very superficially, one might say that the former explores some of the matters of eternal speculation (personality, memory, immortality) in strictly scientific terms, from biology to informatics, whereas the latter deals with the putative discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, arguably the event that would affect our outlook more profoundly than anything ever before. But the scope of the pieces is really far greater than that. Not surprisingly, in these dangerous areas one is most likely to disagree strongly with Clarke on some occasions: believe me or not, a disagreement is every bit as stimulating as an agreement - if not more so.

For my part, I am inclined to think that Clarke does occasionally underestimates the complexity of living matter and correspondingly overestimates our powers over it. Naturally, he tends to give too much credit to machine intelligence as well. (Somewhat ironically, I do not in the least find Clarke too mechanistic as he himself feared; I couldn't agree more with his harsh dismissing of now completely obsolete notions of things like vis vitalis.) That machines can think is, I think, indisputable, but whether they can solve completely unexpected problems and act accordingly in cases of grave emergency, or whether they can create anything that can safely be called art, that is quite another matter. There are those people who maintain that the Ninth symphony was not really created because the sounds were there before Beethoven, and he just assembled them in the right order: no big deal. Without going into nonsense like vitalism, I firmly take issue with such statement. That said, observing the modern computer and the fabulous growing of its abilities, as well as the dismal decline of virtually all arts during the last century or so, it may turn out that - yet again? - Clarke's visions were disconcertingly accurate. Perhaps, just perhaps, we do underrate machines and their powers, just like we do overrate the human brain and its ability to produce art (or to act rationally and produce science, for that matter). In a mere few thousand years and on just one insignificant little planet, time and space of absolutely no importance as far as the universe is concerned, we seem to have lost all our chips at the poker table of eternity. Perhaps, just perhaps, the arts have exhausted themselves and science, for all its powers, cannot compensate for our essential lack of common sense. Thus in the future machines may inherit the Earth - and the space. And the extraterrestrial creatures from the first contact will never know that intelligent (?) biological life once existed on Earth.

But let me finish with several substantial quotes more. Look at them, and at those above, and decide for yourself whether the book is worth reading or not. These are all from ''Of Mind and Matter''.

[First lines.]
"For thousands of years the human race has debated, with singular lack of agreement, such questions as the existence of the soul, the meaning of personality, the relationship between the mind and the body and - above all - the possibility of survival after death. The fact that the debate is still just as heated as when it began in the Late Paleolithic Period strongly suggests that the wrong questions have been asked, and certain spectacular developments of the last decade indicate, with equal force, that now is a good time to recast them into a form that makes sense."


"Many details of the fantastically complex electro-chemistry of life will elude us for generations yet, but it cannot be doubted now that there is nothing inherently mysterious, or fundamentally unknowable, in the processes that build and power our bodies. That makes them none the less marvellous; real knowledge, when it dispels superstition, seldom diminishes awe. (For can the petty cosmos of Milton compare with the grandeur of the Universe we know today?)"


"A good many people find it somehow degrading to realize that the human brain, like the human body, is ''only'' an electrochemical machine and flatly refuse to admit. This attitude is completely absurd. The Taj Mahal is ''only'' a mass of stones; the roof of the Sistine Chapel only plaster and paint. The material is unimportant; the pattern is all that matters. Should an athlete feel that sport is worthless because of the undeniable fact that his body is an elaborate artifice of pumps, levers and elastic fibers? Of course not; indeed, it adds zest and interest to his performance. (It is no coincidence that the first man to run a mile in four minutes was a doctor.) It may well be that we will learn to think properly and effectively only when we know how to think."

[The notion that there is some kind of mysterious, unknown and unknowable, force behind life is very alluring. Unfortunately, it is pretty much like God: there is no firm evidence in either direction, though the balance of probability is quite unequal. If you can believe it, be happy. If you can't, be wretched.]

"I have little doubt that a great many people will consider these speculations naively mechanistic, because they cannot reconcile such imponderables as personality, intelligence - even the soul, if one cares to use the word - with the concept of electronics or information theory. Such an attitude is a hangover from nineteenth-century materialism - though this charge will make many critics doubly indignant. By the word ''machine'', far too many otherwise educated people envisage a contraption of cogs and cranks and levers; they are still mentally in the steam-engine era. They cannot imagine the subtlety and sophistication of the great computers which are now leaving the laboratory, some of which may comprise a million circuit elements and be as large as a house - yet contain practically no moving parts, though they may carry out a hundred thousand operations a second. The machines we are building now differ in kind as well as degree from all that mankind has ever seen before - and their evolution is barely beginning."

[This is one of the very few instances where Clarke is positively dated - computers ''as large as a house'', indeed - but, as it usually happens in these cases, what's dated is mostly insignificant trivia. In fact, Clarke's argument in his last sentence was quite prophetic for its time; it is indeed much more relevant today than it must have been in the late 1950s. Arthur finishes this stupendous essay with a wild speculation of which he would later make an unforgettable use in 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.]

"No one can say where it will lead, but glimpsed vaguely in the mists of the future is a dream - I will not say a possibility - which has long been hinted at in most of the religions of the world. Since pattern alone is important, can mind and intelligence exist without matter?"


"And thus, intelligence, which arose from the interactions of matter and has used it as a vehicle for so many ages, may at last break loose from its origin, as a butterfly from the prison of its chrysalis. And like the butterfly climbing into the summer sky, it may go on to orders of experience completely beyond the reach of its earlier metamorphoses."

"Where are we today in the hierarchy which, ages hence, may culminate into something which only the word ''spirit'' can describe? Are we the chrysalis, the larva - or merely the unhatched egg?"

Hǻrley Quinn
As many Arthur C. Clarke fans know, the great writer was not only the Dean of science fiction, but was also, at least pre-2001, one of the world's leading popular science writers. He wrote many volumes of non-fiction, most of them now out-of-print. One thing that anyone who has read through a good amount of them has no doubt noticed is that some essays pop up in more than one volume, and that some of the writing is a good deal more interesting than some others. The Challenge of the Spaceship is, thankfully, one of the best non-fiction collections that Clarke ever wrote. The book's title is somewhat misleading (so titled, probably, to parallel with the more aptly-titled The Challenge of the Sea). The book does not deal directly with spaceships, as far as their own technicalities and aspects of composition. What the book focuses on, instead, are the challenges that the spaceship is faced with overcoming -- exploring the solar system, reaching the stars, etc. -- and, most specifically, the cultural, artistic, philosophical, and even theological ramifications of attempting and meeting such challenges. This is far less prediction-oriented than some of Clarke's other work, and it is a real treat to any fan of the author's. The range of subjects and material that Clarke covers is nothing short of fascinating. As always, Clarke uses his encyclopedic knowledge of science, and astronomy in particular, to positively dazzle and astound the reader. He also, thankfully, possesses the rare ability to take difficult and complex concepts and put them into terms that most readers can understand. One will learn much from this book, things both practically useful and just quite simply interesting. To boot, the philosophical asides that Clarke can just never keep from returning back to are at turns highly imaginative and extremely interesting, thoughtful, and enlightening. As always, he writes with a highly-poetic that is a joy to read, and his ever-present, if subtle, sense of humor is to be found in spades. This book also includes one of my all-time favorite of Clarke's essays The Star of the Magi, in which he explores the question of which astronomical phenomena constituted the Star of Bethlehem. This is an essential book for fans of Clarke's non-fiction.

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