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ASTOUNDING DAYS Paperback – Feb 1 1990


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Spectra (Feb. 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553348221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553348224
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,880,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
In this memoir, Arthur C. Clarke describes the early days of science fiction, when he as a schoolboy in England thrived on the sci-fi pulp magazine Astounding Stories. Later he would contribute stories to this magazine, as would most of the other greats in the world of sci-fi: Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, H. P. Lovecraft, to name but a few.
Astounding Days is divided into three parts, describing in short chapters the development of the magazine under its three first editors: Harry Bates, F. Orlin Tremaine and John W. Campbell, Jr. There's also an epilogue, containing among other things a reprint of Clarke's short-story "The Steam-Powered Word-Processor," and an appendix with a listing of Clarke's contributions to Astounding Stories (nowadays Analog), and reprints of some of his letters to the magazine.
Clarke writes with his usual elegance and gentle wit, and offers some insights into the early development of his career. There are some interesting and amusing anecdotes, but mostly he comments on the contents of Astounding Stories during the 1930s and 1940s. The visions of the future laid out in its pages had a profound impact on Clarke, and came to play a significant part in directing the course his later life would take.
Astounding Days is an interesting and entertaining book, easy to read and often captivating. But you do have to be a fan of sci-fi in general and Arthur C. Clarke in particular to get the full enjoyment from this book. From that point of view, it's highly recommended.
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By Bill R. Moore on Nov. 28 2000
Format: Paperback
Perhaps it is inaccurate to call this an autobiography. A good portion of it (particularly the first part of the book) is Arthur critiquing the early issues of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Later, he tells quite a bit about his own life, but mostly this is a memoir of his experiences with Astouding. It is interesting for several reasons: first, we learn what Clarke thinks of a great many of his colleagues (including heavies like Asimov and Heinlein, both friends of Arthur's). But what makes the book really interesting for the hard-core ACC reader is later in the book where he tells a lot about his own life. We learn of his experiences at college, as a civil servant, and his time in the military. We also get a lot of his views and ideas on many things relating to science, as well as a good deal he says about his own subsequent books, the ideas behind them, and how the writing of other authors influenced him. And of course the book is all written in Clarke's trademark witty style.
This will all seem very boring for the casual Clarke reader, or for those who only know him as "that guy who did 2001". But for those true fans who recognize Arthur for what he is, a brilliant, creative, and witty writer who is unquestionably one of the literary greats of the 20th century, and possibly the greatest science fiction writer of all-time. The only thing about this book that disappoints me is that ACC elaborates so little on his own works for Astounding. I figured that would be the main point of the book, but it isn't; although he mentions many times his works, they are rarely the ones found in Astounding. Still, this is a worthwhile and book for the Clarke devotee; casual fans should look elsewhere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4 and 1/2 Stars Nov. 28 2000
By Bill R. Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Perhaps it is inaccurate to call this an autobiography. A good portion of it (particularly the first part of the book) is Arthur critiquing the early issues of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Later, he tells quite a bit about his own life, but mostly this is a memoir of his experiences with Astouding. It is interesting for several reasons: first, we learn what Clarke thinks of a great many of his colleagues (including heavies like Asimov and Heinlein, both friends of Arthur's). But what makes the book really interesting for the hard-core ACC reader is later in the book where he tells a lot about his own life. We learn of his experiences at college, as a civil servant, and his time in the military. We also get a lot of his views and ideas on many things relating to science, as well as a good deal he says about his own subsequent books, the ideas behind them, and how the writing of other authors influenced him. And of course the book is all written in Clarke's trademark witty style.
This will all seem very boring for the casual Clarke reader, or for those who only know him as "that guy who did 2001". But for those true fans who recognize Arthur for what he is, a brilliant, creative, and witty writer who is unquestionably one of the literary greats of the 20th century, and possibly the greatest science fiction writer of all-time. The only thing about this book that disappoints me is that ACC elaborates so little on his own works for Astounding. I figured that would be the main point of the book, but it isn't; although he mentions many times his works, they are rarely the ones found in Astounding. Still, this is a worthwhile and book for the Clarke devotee; casual fans should look elsewhere.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Astounding indeed June 28 2006
By Edward J. Tabler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I remember walking into a science fiction book store while visiting New York City in 1984. A crowd had gathered around an older gentleman who wore a silver flight jacket. At first I thought it was only a local geek smoffing off, but when he turned around, I saw that he was none other than Arthur C. Clarke, there to promote the release of 2010. I was reminded of this incident when reading Astounding Days, Clake's memoirs of his long love affair with the premier American SF magazine of the 1930s and 1940s. It is written in a very conversational style with the author tossing off asides in every direction with no sense of writing discipline, much like he surely did that day long ago. Clarke was fortunate to have come of age just as Astounding was making its debut. Many of its stories would go on to become classics. He makes special mention of the 1934 issues. Then, the reader was treated to the serialization in succeeding issues of Jack Williamson's The Legion of Space, "Doc" Smith's Skylark of Valeron, and John W. Campbell's The Mightiest Machine. I remember being similarly blown away when I happened to open up the bound volume of that year's issues while browsing through the stacks at the University of Illinois Library. Clarke reminiscences on many of the writers and stories published in Astounding that made an impression on him during those years including H.P. Lovecaft, Stanley Weinbaum, Ray Cummings, Robert Heinlein, A.E. VanVogt--as well as many lesser known works that have not stood the test of time. One interesting tidbit is his aside that Astounding magazines typically reached Britain in those days as ballast on freighters. Interspersed with this discussion of the stories are his memoirs of growing up as a young fan in prewar England and involvement in such SF groups as the British Interplanetary Society.
'Astounding Days' is an Astounding Book Nov. 17 2010
By Liza Kimball - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful memories of way early science fiction, and his life connected with all this. Then he goes through many stories selected from 'Astounding' I have only read one of his novels, '2010' but these biographies are fantastic!
An intertwined autobiography of Clarke and science fiction expressed through the pages of "Astounding Stories" Dec 4 2009
By Charles Ashbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the original three greats, (Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein), Arthur Clarke was a heavily involved eyewitness to science fiction evolving from the subject of dreams into a terrifying reality. The invention of the nuclear weapon changed war between powerful industrial nations from a means of settling major disputes into a mass suicide of the species. This book is an intertwined autobiography of Clarke and his relationship with the "Astounding Stories" science fiction magazine.
When the story opens, it is the age of the pulps, where great scientific gaffes could be made in the stories and often were. Clarke points these out, yet mentions that in many cases that was part of the fun, as the point of the story was to entertain. However, an evolution was taking place where the number of major scientific errors was slowly reduced and the facts of the science began to be more of an essential part of the story. Clarke chronicles this transformation, until at the very end the name of the magazine is changed to "Analog Science Fact-Science Fiction."
There is no one better able to describe this transformation that Clarke, although Asimov would certainly be his equal. Clarke is superb in describing the changes in the magazine as well as his own role in the world. He lived in England during World War II and although he was never in any direct and immediate danger, it was still a time of great national stress. Clarke was in the military for a short time and contributed his technical expertise to the war effort. He was also in regular contact with many of the writers of science fact/science fiction so he adds many personal tales to this interesting recapitulation of what is called "The Golden Age."

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