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An uncannily prophetic novel of early space exploration from the legendary “colossus of science fiction” and creator of 2001: A Space Odyssey (The New Yorker).
The world’s first lunar spacecraft is about to launch. The ship, Prometheus, is built from two components—one designed to travel trough outter space to the Moon and back, and the other to carry the first component through Earth’s atmosphere and into orbit. Dirk Alexson, a historian assigned to documenting the project, travels from London to the desert base in Australia where Prometheus is to be launched. In a true example of life imitating art, Alexson describes what would become the foundation for the actual space shuttle program twenty years later.
First published in 1951, Prelude to Space is full of detailed technical descriptions and conversations regarding the possibility of spaceflight, many of which mirrored—or were actually cited in—the construction of the first spaceships and telecommunications satellites. Clarke’s uncanny ability to predict so many events, concerns, dilemmas, and triumphs of space exploration decades in advance make this fascinating novel as much science as it is fiction.