Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was one of the most prolific science fiction authors of all-time. Best known for writing 2001: Space Odyssey, Clarke also wrote the screenplay for the 1968 film of the same name and was a television host, futurist, inventor, and undersea explorer.
He won numerous Nebula and Hugo awards for his writings, and he was considered one of the “Big 3” of science fiction writers, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. He moved to Sri Lanka in 1956 to explore his love of scuba diving and stayed there until his death in 2008 at the age of 90.
Below are some of his best books.
39. The Last Theorem
This is the story of a Sri Lankan man who is working to solve Fermat’s last theorem while he is still in college. The young man, Ranjit, is eventually kidnapped by parents and after he is finally freed, he solves the theorem. In the meantime, aliens are trying to decide how to destroy mankind. They start with a pact between the U.S., China, and Russia, and the plot thickens from there.
38. The Ghost From the Grand Banks
Nearly 100 years after the sinking of the Titanic, the sunken ship is raised and six bodies are found. Unfortunately, one of the bodies is identified but her name isn’t found on the passenger list. So begins the quest to identify her, which ends up being fatal for one person.
A new missile is tested by the Marines but after launch, it mysteriously disappears. In Miami, whales are discovered and a journalist wants to know why. Suddenly, these two stories start to mesh and all of the answers are provided.
36. Richter 10
Lewis Crane’s family was taken from him by an earthquake, and 30 years later he is a leading seismologist trying to predict when the next earthquake will happen. Unfortunately, when he discovers the next “big one” is on its way, no one believes him. What’s he supposed to do now?
35. Beyond the Fall of Night
This was a novella written by Clarke but expanded into a full-size novel by Gregory Benford. It is set billions of years in the future and describes human destiny among the stars. Diaspar is all that’s left of humanity, but a boy named Alvin wants to explore the world beyond that city and attempts to do just that, even though he doesn’t know how.
34. Rama II
Decades after a Raman vessel enters the solar system, another one comes along. A crew is sent to the vessel to find out what it’s all about, but they are unprepared for what they find and for the conflicts that start to arise between them.
33. 3001: The Final Odyssey
Frank Poole has been frozen in space, forgotten, for 1,000 years. Now he has come back to life and finds himself in a world totally unlike the one he left behind. Even worse, the planet they thought was destroyed, the Monolith, seems to be stirring up again and coming back to life.
32. The Trigger
A trigger has been developed that can destroy munitions at will, despite where they are located. The problem is, the world may not be ready for such technology, and if they are, will it be used for good or for bad purposes?
31. Prelude to Space
The making of Earth’s first true spaceship, the Prometheus, and the men who made it happen are the subject of this book, which includes descriptions of each of the men – a space adventurer, a direct general of interplanetary, and a leading atomic engineer.
30. 2061: Odyssey Three
This is book number three in the Space Odyssey series and tells the story of two expeditions into space that suddenly become intertwined with one another. It involves an alien race that wants mankind to be involved in the galaxy’s evolution – even if they don’t want to do so.
29. The Deep Range
One-hundred years into the future, the population of Earth gets its food mainly from the sea, including whale products and plankton farms. Walter Franklin is the hero and is in charge of making sure the oceans and farms keep providing what is needed to sustain everyone, until he starts to run into troubles under the ocean.
28. Time’s Eye
What makes this book so interesting is the collection of people from different time periods who get swept up together in a completely different era. Add to that the number of large spherical eyes that are popping up everywhere, and you get some idea of what makes it such an unusual and exciting story.
27. The Garden of Rama
In the 22nd century, Rama has arrived in the solar system and it is huge. Eighty years later, a second alien spaceship has arrived and Earth is waiting. The problem is, Earth is still not prepared for what they find with this ship, so no one can predict what will happen next.
26. The Hammer of God
In the year 2110, technology has made life on earth practically perfect, and now it is considered the Golden Age. But when an astronomer notices something headed toward Earth that has the potential to kill everyone, a starship is sent out to divert it, but at what cost? How can this be done?
25. Imperial Earth
It’s the year 2176 and America is getting ready for its quincentennial. Duncan is traveling from Titan to Earth, but he is not prepared for everything he starts to encounter once he gets there. To make it more interesting, he is also there to look for a woman he met years earlier.
24. Dolphin Island
When a cargo hovership makes an emergency landing to make repairs, a teenager hops on board. Later, an explosion causes the crew to escape, but the teen is rescued by a pod of dolphins. A very unique and interesting coming-of-age story.
This is the final book in the Time Odyssey trilogy and provides information that will make the first two books make more sense. It is also filled with new weapons and new strangeness, and it won’t bore you!
22. Islands in the Sky
With constant excitement, the story centers on a young man who wins a contest and asks for a shot at the space station as a prize. What happens next will keep you entertained for a while.
Two-hundred years after the moon landing, there are now populations on the moon, Venus, and Mars. There are also political entities on all three, and that’s where the trouble comes in.
20. Rama Revealed
Book number four in the Rama series deals with the cliffhanger found at the end of the last book. It follows the story of Nicole and her escape from prison described in that book.
19. The Sands of Mars
Published in 1951, this story centers around Mars and its human inhabitants. Mars has been settled but is basically being used for research. This was Clarke’s first published novel.
18. Glide Path
Clarke’s only non-science fiction novel, it starts in WWII and the development of an aircraft landing system. Luis Alvarez developed the system, and this is his story.
Book number two in the Time Odyssey series, it tells the story of Bisesa Dutt, who is being reunited with her daughter. And now, her body is aging faster than it’s supposed to, which directly affects the rest of the story.
16. Against the Fall of Night
Diaspar is the last human city, and Alvin is the first child to be born in 7,000 years. So Alvin sets out to find out everything he can about this world of his, with some very surprising results.
15. The Songs of Distant Earth
In a utopian human colony, apocalyptic, utopian, and atheistic ideas shape everything that is happening there, and it starts when a group of travelers from a doomed Earth visit the colony
14. Reach for Tomorrow
This is a collection of some of Clarke’s short stories, which include Technical Error, The Awakening, The Parasite, Jupiter Five, A Walk in the Dark, and The Forgotten Enemy, among others.
13. Tales of Ten Worlds
This is another collection of short stories written by Clarke and include Let There Be Light, Into the Comet, Hate, I Remember Babylon, A Slight Case of Sunstroke, and Death and the Senator, among others.
12. A Fall of Moondust
In the 21st century, the moon is inhabited by people, and when a boat named Selene sinks with passengers in it, they have to figure out how to stay alive until help arrives. The book was also the very first science fiction book to be made into a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book.
11. The Light of Other Days
This story was written by Stephen Baxter but is based on a synopsis written by Arthur C. Clarke. It is about the development of wormhole technology that allows information to be passed between points in the space-time continuum instantaneously.
10. The Fountains of Paradise
In the 22nd century, a space elevator is being constructed so that payloads can be raised to orbit without having to use rockets, which saves a lot of money. It reaches 22,300 miles, and the story has a background that consists of two other smaller stories. The book won both the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novel.
9. Expedition to Earth
Another collection of some of Clarke’s best science fiction stories, it includes tales such as Hide and Seek, Second Dawn, History Lesson, The Sentinel, Loophole, and Exile of the Eons, to name a few.
8. 2010: Odyssey Two
This is the sequel to the 1968 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is set in 2010 and describes a joint American-Soviet mission aboard the Soviet spacecraft The Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov. The mission has several objectives, which includes investigating the “monolith” discovered in 2001.
7. The City and the Stars
In the city of Diaspar, one-billion years into the future, the oceans are gone and so is most of humanity. Even worse, there is intense fear of going anywhere near outside of the city, and the city itself is governed by a computer. A very interesting read.
6. The Wind From the Sun
This is a collection of short stories that includes The Food of the Gods, where man thrives on synthetic foods; The Secret, where something fishy is going on in a lab on the moon; and The Last Command, where a commander makes his last command on a prerecorded device after mankind is essentially gone, along with several others.
5. Childhood’s End
A peaceful alien invasion has occurred on Earth, and the planet will remain in utopia as long as humans agree to give up two things: their culture and their identity. It was published in 1953 and tells the story of the Overlords who have taken over the earth.
4. Rendezvous with Rama
In the 2130s, a cylindrical alien starship enters the Solar System, and the story is told from a group of human explorers’ point of view. It won both the Nebula and the Hugo awards and it is considered one of Clarke’s best novels, and one of the books that resulted in his popularity.
3. The Other Side of the Sky
Originally published in 1958, it is a collection of stories by Arthur C. Clarke and includes Refugee, No Morning After, Security Check, The Other Side of the Sky (which consists of six different vignettes), Publicity Campaign, Out of the Sun, and Cosmic Casanova, as well as a few others.
2. The Nine Billion Names of God
The Science Fiction Writers of America voted this short story one of the best science fiction short stories ever written. Published in 1953, it is the story of a group of monks who use technology to come up with all of the possible names for God. They believe that once the task is complete, the universe will end and God will take everyone home.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Arguably one of Clarke’s most infamous works, it tells the story of a trip to Jupiter with a computer named HAL. It is scientifically accurate and deals with issues related to human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, existentialism, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.