The White Hart in Fleet Street is the favourite haunt of
top science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clarke. At any time
you’d find a garrulous crowd of journalists, scientists,
editors and authors. And . . . . Harry Purvis.
In a pub of great raconteurs, Harry Purvis was the best.
His amazing repertoire consisted almost entirely of tales
of the quirks and eccentricities of scientists and inventors.
A man who could control a giant squid. Another who
could silence a concert orchestra at the flick of a switch.
Or, the French genius who invented a machine that
could record all human pleasures and transmit them to
any client rich enough to afford the sybaritic luxury.
These entertaining stories show Arthur C. Clarke at his
most inventive and liqht-hearted.
ABOUT ARTHUR C. CLARKE
MR. CLARKE’s interest in science began early. “When I was
less than ten years old,” he writes, “I built a small telescope
from a cardboard tube and a couple of lenses, and spent many
of my nights mapping the moon, until I knew my way around
. it a good deal better than around my native Somerset.
“The science-fiction virus attacked me when I was fourteen
and saw my first copies of Amazing Stories and Astounding.
For years I collected every issue I could lay my hands upon;
I can still recall the thrill of receiving an entire crateful of
Wonder Stories which I’d purchased for five cents apiece.
“When I was around fifteen I started writing short pieces
for the school magazine and eventually became its assistant
editor. On turning up these articles recently, I was depressed
to see how little improvement there had been in the interim.
“Moving to London I encountered the British science-
fiction world as well as the embryo British Interplanetary
Society. I was treasurer of the B.I.S., edited, wrote for, and
duplicated countless science-fiction ‘fan mags,’ and sold my
first articles on space flight.
“The War and the R.A.F. introduced me to radar. The
experience I gained running the first Ground-Controlled Ap-
proach equipment has been reflected in a number of my
stories and has given me an insight into the scientific mind.
It was during this period that I wrote the technical paper
‘Extra-Terrestrial Relays,’ which outlined the theory of syn-
chronous communications satellites.
“With the help of a friendly Member of Parliament I
obtained our equivalent of a G.I. scholarship to King’s Col-
lege, London, and graduated two years later with a First Class
Honors B.Sc. in physics and pure and applied maths.
“Meanwhile I had started selling stories to the science-
fiction magazines in the United States. I continued writing
fiction and nonfiction after I left college and became Assistant
Editor of Physics Abstracts – a very interesting job that kept me
in touch with scientific progress. I threw this up after two
years when my spare-time income began to exceed my salary.
“In 1950 my first book was published – a technical work
called Interplanetary Flight, which was so successful despite
its specialized nature that I was asked to do a second book for
the general public. This was The Exploration of Space.
“In the mid-50’s, however, my career took anew direction
when I was badly bitten by the skin-diving virus. (I have since
infected other astronauts, notably Dr. Wemher von Braun.)
In 1955 I joined my partner Mike Wilson on the Great Barrier
Reef of Australia, with results reported in The Coast of Coral.
Later expeditions took us to Ceylon, where we have now made
our home. Mike’s discovery of the first treasure ship ever
found in the Indian Ocean (a heavily-armed trader that went
down in 1702 carrying at least a ton of silver coins) resulted in
the book and TV movie ‘The Treasure of the Great Reef,’
and plunged our lives into considerable confusion.
“I have now written over forty books, but my literary pro-
duction came toa virtual halt for almost four years while I
was working with Stanley Kubrick on 2001: a space odyssey.
Now that this has proved to be a modest success, I hope to
get back to short-story writing – my main love ~ and also to
spend more time snorkeling, reading, playing a sneaky band
of table-tennis, and keeping up with the news from Space …
which I have every intention of visiting before I ‘am too old
to enjoy it.”
Arthur C. Clarke
New York, May 1969
In good preloved condition but with a former owner’s name and some yellowing to pages