A massive compendium brings together (most probably) every story—104 in total, at least 3 previously uncollected—ever written by grandmaster Clarke (3001: The Final Odyssey, 1997, etc). The contents range from Clarke’s first published yarn, the mischievous matter-transmitter tale “Travel by Wire” in 1937, to “Improving the Neighbourhood,” his 1997 warning to the readers of the scholarly journal Nature to disregard at their peril experimental results that don’t fit in with accepted theory. Several stories developed into novels: “The Hammer of God,” “The Songs of Distant Earth,” “Earthlight,” “Guardian Angel” (the genesis for Clarke’s greatest novel, Childhood’s End), and of course, “The Sentinel,” which, with Stanley Kubrick, begot the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, which in turn begot the book. Scattered among these are dozens of other famous tales. And Clarke’s sole short-story collaboration, with Stephen Baxter (co-author with Clarke of The Light of Other Days, p. 154) is, intriguingly, a playful yet hard-edged counterpart/commentary/development of “Travel by Wire.” Curiously, perhaps ironically, Clarke—a writer whose stories largely depend on strict scientific accuracy, and whose optimism about technology is tinged with healthy skepticism—has garnered his greatest accolades for stories where metaphysical concerns reach an almost religious intensity. With his awesome inventiveness, sure grasp of scientific principle, readability, openness, and utter lack of viciousness or meanness, it’s easy to understand why Clarke became the single most famous and influential non-American SF writer of the post–WW II period.
If you are unacquainted with Clarke—possible, though barely—begin here at once. If you’re old friends: Browse. Enjoy. Wonder.