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Preface to The Millennial Project

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Arthur C. Clarke


Arthur C. Clarke

The legendary seer of Sri Lanka, Arthur C. Clarke, has written a preface for the upcoming second edition of The Millennial Project. In the science-fiction universe, the three superluminary stars of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein outshine all others. Only Arthur C. Clarke yet belongs to us instead of the ages. He shines on, as brilliant as ever-in his latest book The Hammer of God he combines nanotechnology and virtual' reality to create the, quite literally, mind-boggling "Brainman."


Now, in his preface to The Millennial Project, he sets in motion yet another self-fulfilling prophecy.


© 1993 - Arthur C. Clarke. Reproduced here with his permission.

The Millennial Project is a book I wish I'd written: correction--it's a book I wish I could have written. I am completely awed, and I don't awe easily, by the author's command of a dozen engineering disciplines and his amazing knowledge of scientific and technical literature. Yet I note with approval that his interests also range from rock music through Emily Dickenson to Malory's Morte d'Arthur. On top of all this, he is an inspiring writer with an engaging sense of humor ("I'm just a simple homeboy, and take no great interest in anything beyond the Magellanic Clouds.")


Do I sound a little envious? Well, let's say that if I was fifty years younger I might have considered terminating Mr. Marshall with extreme prejudice. Now I'll merely warn my fellow science-fiction writers that if he decides to invade their turf they may be in deep trouble.


The Millennial Project has the modest sub-title "Colonizing the Galaxy in 8 Easy Steps," and that's what it's all about-though some readers may challenge the author's definition of 'easy'. However, even those who have no extra-terrestrial ambitions will be fascinated by his projects for sea-farming, floating cities and underwater habitats. Like most of the book's concepts, these are illustrated by dramatic and often strikingly beautiful colour plates.


I may be unable to judge The Millennial Project dispassionately as it touches on an extraordinary indeed, uncanny-number of my own interests; sometimes it seems that the author has been reading my mind, and plagiarising my books before they are published. His description of form-fitting leotard-type spacesuits is a straight steal from The Hammer of God (not out until next month.) The illustration of terraformed Mars has undoubtedly been down-loaded from the Snows of Olympus file on my Amiga's hard disk. (Damn clever, as it doesn't have a modem.)


I could quote at least a dozen more resonances in this extraordinary book, but as they are of purely personal interest I'll mention only one.


The Millennial Project has 722 references, many of them fascinating reading in their own right. Number 299 is my 1945 paper on communications satellites, written when I was working on Ground Controlled Approach radar.


And a couple of inches away (number 304) is a name I'd almost forgotten-the RAF Group Captain (Edward Fennessy) who, more than half a century ago, completely changed my life by selecting me for that job...


It's goose-pimple time, so I'll get out of the way and let Marshall start stretching your mind.


Arthur C. Clarke

Colombo, 7 May 1993

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