Print 37 comment(s) - last by PitViper007.. on Mar 24 at 4:26 PM

Clarke continued to take interviews through 2007. On his 90th birthday in December 2007, he bid his friends and family farewall in a recorded video message.  (Source: AP)
The world loses its largest advocate for science and science fiction today

I was extremely disappointed to hear this morning that Arthur C. Clarke passed away today at the age of 90.  How many of us felt something special, or at least incredibly different, the first time we saw 2001: A Space Odessy, or the first time Endeavour opened the hatch of the cylindrical world of Rama? 

It was only so often that a single writer could influence the course of humanity in so many ways. His essays and novels touched on topics that will stay with humanity for generations still.  Clarke is recognized with his own orbit distinction -- Clarke Orbit, 36,000 kilometers above Earth -- for his work on geosynchronous communication satellites.

In his time Clarke penned more than 100 short stories, novels, non-fiction exposes and philosophical essays.

It's unfortunate that Clarke's pinnacle prediction, the space elevator detailed in The Fountains of Paradise, was not a technical possibility by the time of his death.  For my generation, the space elevator will be as much of a certainty as the communications satellite of Clarke's generation. 

Clarke's mastery of the unknown, really an exercise of what he thought was the most logical proposition, kept him writing well into his 80s.  For his work he was knighted in 2000. 

After contracting polio in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, Clarke made it his personal duty to get the local government involved in science and technology.  In 2005 he was honored with the Sri Lankabhimanya, the highest civilian award in the country. 

A relatively obscure quote from Clarke near the end of his days quickly became my favorite after it was appropriately published in 2001:

"I don't pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about..."

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

A great loos for humanity
By DontAskMe on 3/19/2008 2:57:06 PM , Rating: 3
The end of an era. The last sci-fi grandmaster has left us. He was such an agile intellect. I hope he is finding out first hand the Nine Billion Names of God

RE: A great loos for humanity
By madoka on 3/19/2008 3:59:49 PM , Rating: 2
Well, Ray Bradbury is still around you know.

RE: A great loos for humanity
By masher2 on 3/20/2008 5:28:27 AM , Rating: 2
You can't really compare Bradbury to the likes of Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. He's not even really in the same genre-- Bradbury has never considered himself a SF writer...and I happen to share his opinion.

RE: A great loos for humanity
By wordsworm on 3/20/2008 6:50:37 PM , Rating: 1
I lost interest in sci fi after Asimov died. I didn't even know that Clark was still active. I wonder what will happen with his latest collaboration. Too much sci-fi has become modernized to the point where it's regular pulp fiction, but in space. I think Star Wars had something to do with that - a western in space. It used to be about vision - now it has to do with mundane repetition of everything that sci-fi hadn't been about. Star Trek was good until TNG/Star Trek IV. Now there's nothing except picking up the occasional HG Wells book that I haven't read yet to keep me interested in sci-fi.

In any case, for a long time I've said that there was only one great sci-fi writer left in the world. Now they're all gone.

May he rest in space.

RE: A great loos for humanity
By masher2 on 3/20/2008 7:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, they certainly called it the 'Golden Age' of SF for good reason.

RE: A great loos for humanity
By SilthDraeth on 3/21/2008 2:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
What about Orson Scott Card? CJ Cherryh?

RE: A great loos for humanity
By masher2 on 3/21/2008 10:38:22 AM , Rating: 2
Cherryh certainly doesn't qualify as hard SF. I've read very little of OSC's works, but the few I have didn't qualify either.

Vernor Vinge has written a few decent hard SF novels, though he's a bit erratic at times. Niven used to write hard SF, but he's devolved into soap operas and military SF lately.

RE: A great loos for humanity
By SilthDraeth on 3/22/2008 11:39:38 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, you were talking about "Hard Sc-Fi". I thought the discussion was just about Sci Fi. Granted I never read any of Arthur's works, but I have read Asimov, and Heinlein. I would say Cherryh and card are in the same class as authors, but perhaps considered a sub genre?

RE: A great loos for humanity
By codeThug on 3/23/2008 9:12:50 PM , Rating: 2
Try Stephen Baxter. Definitely hard scifi with plenty of imagination. I have not been disappointed yet...

Goodbye, Arthur
By fictisiousname on 3/19/2008 11:03:41 AM , Rating: 3
Your books and dreams will live on forever.

RE: Goodbye, Arthur
By nugundam93 on 3/19/2008 11:30:18 AM , Rating: 2
the world has lost a great writer, thinker and visionary.

you'll still live on forever with humanity through your works.

RE: Goodbye, Arthur
By Misty Dingos on 3/19/2008 1:16:46 PM , Rating: 5
Dave I have closed the pod bay doors. The writer is released to the void. I don't really understand this but I feel sad.

It is alright to feel sad HAL. We all feel the loss.

RE: Goodbye, Arthur
By PitViper007 on 3/24/2008 4:26:56 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, that just sent chills down my spine....I'd +1 you if I could.

Gone, but not forgotten
By maven81 on 3/19/2008 1:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
It's a sad sad day. Clarke was one of the few surviving "hard" science fiction writers, like Asimov before him. But it was perhaps his ideas that grabbed me the most, such as Clark's law, brilliant in it's simplicity and truth...

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" (forgive me if I got it wrong).
And what he said during a press conference during 2001's release... to paraphrase "any alien civilization that has the technology to travel all the way to earth would be so far beyond our understanding that the experience of meeting them would be almost metaphysical"

RE: Gone, but not forgotten
By Xerstead on 3/19/2008 4:22:02 PM , Rating: 4
Also worth a mention is his opinion that A Space Elivator will be built "about 50 years after everyone stops laughing."

RE: Gone, but not forgotten
By Alpha4 on 3/20/2008 5:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, very inspiring! It looks like Dailytech opted to add that to their list of featured quotes.

First Gary Gygax, now him!
By shaw on 3/19/2008 3:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Year 2008 is turning out to be a horrible year for science fiction! :*(

RE: First Gary Gygax, now him!
By Ringold on 3/19/2008 3:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
If it makes anyone feel at all better.. at least 'Caprica' got the green light for production of a pilot episode.

Yes, not comparable to the loss of him, but take the good news where you can get it. There's very little sci-fi left on TV at all today.

RE: First Gary Gygax, now him!
By masher2 on 3/20/2008 10:42:59 AM , Rating: 2
Is that the BSG spinoff? I'm not sure I would consider it SF any more. I was tremendously impressed by the pilot, but it seems to have slowly devolved into a soap opera set in space. There's the occasional weirdish-fantasy/paranormal element in the script, but very little in the way of actual science.

By NickF001 on 3/19/2008 2:38:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.....

By nah on 3/20/2008 8:15:53 AM , Rating: 2
A rose blooms and then fades,
but the beauty and fragrance are remembered always

By marsbound2024 on 3/24/2008 11:26:10 AM , Rating: 2
I breathe one huge sigh in response to this every time I see a headline stating the he has died. It's truly enough for an indeed audible sigh as Mr. Clarke was an amazing writer whose imagination touched millions. Although this is a cliche, I think we can all agree that the world is a lesser place without Arthur C. Clarke. I may be only turning twenty next month, but I have still found an extremely profound respect and admiration for this man. So long Mr. Clarke and I hope you have found your rightful place in the heavens, wherever that may be!

.. really?
By DASQ on 3/19/08, Rating: -1
RE: .. really?
By maven81 on 3/19/2008 5:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
You're probably just a silly troll... but for those who have an interest in science and science fiction (and frankly if you don't I don't know what you're doing here). It's disappointing, as another strong advocate of science is gone.

RE: .. really?
By KristopherKubicki on 3/19/2008 6:10:14 PM , Rating: 5
I think something does need to be said here. I grew up on the Arthur C. Clarkes and Carl Sagans. These two individuals, in particular, were ardent advocates of science and science fiction -- dying personalities in Western culture.

The Pew Research Center announced yesterday that for every 5 hour block of cable news programming in the U.S., there's approximately one minute of science programming. Clarke probably didn't see the report before he passed on, but this was one of the things he would have petitioned to fix if he had the years still.

A culture that grew up on Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey cares more about Britney Spear's hairstyle than a several billion dollar observation station heading to Venus. Clarke spent his entire life (he gave interviews on his 90th birthday in December) inspiring people like me to do something about it.

I owe a large part of what DailyTech is today to what Clarke said in regard to these trappings in the 80s and 90s. So yes I was extremely disappointed to hear he passed on.

RE: .. really?
By StormEffect on 3/20/2008 11:06:59 PM , Rating: 2
I hope you know, Kris, that I and everyone here appreciate what you've done on Daily Tech and that your work does as much as any-one's to carry on the legacies of Clarke, Sagan, and Asimov.

Science and SF live on. :-)

RE: .. really?
By wordsworm on 3/21/2008 12:32:02 PM , Rating: 2
Kris is probably the best blogger at DailyTech, agreed... but I hardly consider DailyTech to be a creative force in science fiction let alone carrying on any legacy. Are you going for brownie points?

RE: .. really?
By KristopherKubicki on 3/21/2008 1:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
Well - I would like to think by reporting about science and technology (daily!) we are using the phenomenal medium of the internet for something it was intended for :)

RE: .. really?
By wordsworm on 3/21/2008 11:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
we are using the phenomenal medium of the internet for something it was intended for :)

You mean sending off nuclear warheads? :P

RE: .. really?
By christojojo on 3/21/2008 5:37:59 PM , Rating: 2
but I hardly consider DailyTech to be a creative force in science fiction let alone carrying on any legacy. Are you going for brownie points?

Science Fiction like most art forms tends to use what is real as a muse (and vice versa). The reporting of what is happening today, lets us dream about what could happen tomorrow. So, indirectly, I am sure that Daily Tech and other tech news sites have earn their share of inspirational "Brownie Points."

RE: .. really?
By wordsworm on 3/21/2008 10:47:33 PM , Rating: 2
Science Fiction like most art forms tends to use what is real as a muse
That's precisely what's wrong with science fiction these days. Science fiction used to be more imaginative. Now, it looks too much to science. How much science did Jules Verne need to create 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? He had a vision, and the science and submarine came after. Now, sci-fi writers wait for the science and then try to have a vision how it would work. It's definitely an inferior system.

RE: .. really?
By masher2 on 3/22/2008 4:40:22 AM , Rating: 2
> "Science fiction used to be more imaginative. Now, it looks too much to science"

Eh? It's just the other way around. Authors like the "Big 3" had a firm grounding in science, and it showed in their writing. Asimov was a Professor of Biochemistry, Clarke had degrees in Math and Physics, and Heinlein....well he once spent three days working out heat loss equations by hand (no computers back in those days) just to ensure a scene was plausible...and that was just in a book he was writing for teenagers, not even one of his adult works.

RE: .. really?
By wordsworm on 3/22/2008 8:48:07 AM , Rating: 2
I read most of that stuff in my teens. The last sci-fi books I read were 1984, and Zamayatin's We. I guess the draws for me for sci-fi were HG Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs (entire Barsoom, Venus, and Tarzan works - I know Tarzan wasn't sci-fi, but I thought I'd throw it in), Clarke (earlier work), Heinlein, Asimov, Keith Laumer, Piers Anthony, endless Star Trek novels, amongst others I've forgotten.

You're right that these artist had a background in science. However, I don't agree that they were limited by their scientific backgrounds. Of course, I'm pretty much out of touch with contemporary work since the late 80s when I realized all the good work was already printed. However, I now know that time is an excellent filter for working all the junk out of the system. I really should give William Gibson another shot. Neuromancer was actually decent.

Anyways, Clarke won't be forgotten any time soon.

RE: .. really?
By djc208 on 3/21/2008 1:00:39 PM , Rating: 3
I grew up on the Arthur C. Clarkes and Carl Sagans. These two individuals, in particular, were ardent advocates of science and science fiction -- dying personalities in Western culture

I think that's the part that's missing today. These were the authors that were big in their time. How many scientists, engineers, astronomers, astronauts, etc. grew up reading these authors and their kin and went into these fields so they could play in one of those SF worlds they read about (like me). Asimov's robots were a prime force in my desire to take up engineering.

Now all the kids want to do is go to Hogwarts. I think the best we can hope for is a bunch of chemists who want to create some cool "potion" when they grow up.

RE: .. really?
By marsbound2024 on 3/24/2008 11:31:55 AM , Rating: 2
I wish we could re-inspire humanity's imagination. This is no longer the progressive movements of the fifties and sixties (even seventies with the Voyager program) where people started to look up and beyond our own petty Earth. How far we have fallen to come back to our ridiculous self-centered lifestyles enjoying celebrity drama and stupid singing competitions. I find thought experiments looking for solutions to benefit our children and grandchildren to be MUCH more rewarding and entertaining than American Idol or Entertainment Tonight. But I do suppose that even we sometimes need the occasional break from Discovery and the Science Channel, et cetera. But certainly not five hours per every one minute. Again, I breathe a sigh of sadness and disappointment.

RE: .. really?
By christojojo on 3/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: .. really?
By KristopherKubicki on 3/21/2008 1:40:08 PM , Rating: 2
That's entirely possible. If so, I apologize for the heated response.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki