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Clarke, I F

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1918-2009) UK Intelligence officer and code-cracker during World War Two, Professor of English (from 1964) at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, and author. His first major publication was the Bibliography The Tale of the Future: From the Beginning to the Present Day: A Check-list of those Satires, Ideal States, Imaginary Wars and Invasions, Political Warnings and Forecasts, Interplanetary Voyages and Scientific Romances All Located in an Imaginary Future Period – that have been Published in the UK between 1644 and 1960 (1961; rev 1972; rev 1978) [for full titles of revisions, see Checklist]; the third edition carries the story to 1976. This work is very useful but not always reliable, being occasionally weak on variant titles and plot summaries, and is far from comprehensive. These weaknesses lie primarily in the period from 1940 on, and Clarke – whose work on the earlier period was pioneering – publicly regretted the fact that he did not stop at the year 1939.

Clarke's next important contribution to sf studies was Voices Prophesying War 1763-1984 (1966; rev vt Voices Prophesying War: Future Wars 1763-3749 1992), by a long way the most comprehensive account of Future War and Invasion tales, with a strong emphasis on the period from 1871, when George Tomkyns Chesney published The Battle of Dorking (May 1871 Blackwood's Magazine; 1871 chap), to 1914, an era when stories of this sort were extremely influential (see Battle of Dorking). He supplemented this study with two Anthologies: The Battle of Dorking Controversy: A Collection of Pamphlets (anth 1972) edited anonymously; and The Tale of the Next Great War, 1871-1914: Fictions of Future Warfare and Battles Still-To-Come (anth 1995). This was followed by The Pattern of Expectation: 1644-2001 (1979), which ranges widely through the literature of the future from its earliest days to the most recent forecasts of Futures Studies, and takes in much work which tends to be ignored by historians of genre sf. This book broke new ground in the history and sociology of ideas, focusing on the interrelation between differing expectations and Predictions of the future in different historical periods and the characteristic future images they yielded (see History in SF), in pictures as well as in words. In most respects it supersedes W H G Armytage's Yesterday's Tomorrows (1967).

Further anthologies include The Great War with Germany, 1890-1940: Fictions and Fantasies of the War-to-Come (anth 1997), and British Future Fiction 1700-1914 (anth/omni 2001 8vols), which contains in its 4600 pages a wide range of stories set in some version of the future published before World War One transformed the world; it is immensely useful, but was priced (at £550 on release) for libraries alone. The following titles, most of them difficult to obtain in any other edition, are included:

Clarke received the Pilgrim Award in 1974 for his contributions to sf studies. [PN/AR/JC]

see also: Critical and Historical Works About SF; Dystopias; History of SF; Near Future; Proto SF.

Ignatius Frederic Clarke

born Wallasey, Cheshire: 10 July 1918

died Milton Under Wychwood, Oxfordshire: 5 November 2009



works as editor


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