Patricia Marx's 1968 Interview with Arthur C. Clarke

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Arthur C. Clarke, circa late 1960s

In the summer of 1968, science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke sat down with Patricia Marx to discuss the upcoming release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Four years earlier, hot on the heels of Dr. Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick approached Clarke with an idea for a film based in outer space. Borrowing from Clarke’s early short story, “The Sentinel”, the two collaborated on the screenplay for a film they hoped would “convey the beauty and strangeness of the universe—to make people realize […] man’s place in the cosmic hierarchy”.

Recorded just a year shy of the iconic moon-landing, this interview captures a singular moment of prescience and optimism for a world entering into the future. Clarke’s more spirited predictions for the coming century include the development of space industry and tourism replete with colonies on the moon and Mars, the establishment of contact with extraterrestrial entities, and the potential for human immortality. Even amid fantasies of celestial grandeur, Clarke expresses hope for human civilization grounded on Earth: he envisions a stable world society wherein information is communicated instantaneously, forecasting the realization of Marshall McLuhan’s Global Village.

While we have yet to conquer the New Frontier in many of the ways Clarke anticipated, his enthusiasm for the future throughout this interview is infectious. At a time when information and new technology constantly abound, this unique interview captures a refreshing moment of novelty.