For the reading list, I have in mind doing a quick hit on each author as they come up. To help in understanding who they are. I'm going to try and do a Q&A approach and see if I like the way that works.
What is the first book on the list and who wrote it?
It's 'Childhood's End' by Arthur C Clarke.
Does he have anything else on the list?
Yes. This is one of three that made the list. 'Childhood's End' is at #49. He also has '2001: A Space Odyssey' at #24 and 'Rendezvous with Rama' at #76.
Have you read his work before?
Yes. We did 'Childhood's End' in a science fiction class in high school. I read it then and I've read it on my own at least one other time before this list. I've also read 'Rama' before.
But not 2001?
No. I have the short story that inspired the movie, but I haven't read it before. My understanding is that he expanded that short story into a full length book. I *think* that's what we'll read for the list.
What do you know about him?
He was one of the Big Three of sci-fi authors, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein. The three of them dominated the genre for a while, at least by reputation. Of those three, I've read the least of Clarke. The history of science fiction in the 20th century can't be told with him.
Have you read any of his other books?
Yes. At least two others. 'Fountains of Paradise' is an excellent book that popularized the idea of a space elevator to the broad public. 'Songs of Distant Earth' is a very good work about a colony world that is visited by a generation ship. I'd recommend either of them to others. I would describe his writing as 'gentle'.
Is he known for anything else?
He is. Like lots of science fiction authors, he has actually done some important science. The story is a bit unclear, but he appears to have come up with the idea of the geosynchronous orbit. Satellites are boosted to this altitude and speed because it allows them to orbit above a fixed point on the Earth. This means that a signal from that "bird" stays steady as it broadcasts down below.
Anything else interesting about him?
Clarke was English. In 1956, he moved to Sri Lanka where he lived for the rest of his life. He was an avid scuba diver and helped find several ancient shipwrecks. He was also gay, though this was kept quiet for most of his life. In 2000, he was knighted. He died in 2008.