The World Mourns the Loss of Arthur C. Clarke
March 18, 2008 6:11 PM
comment(s) - last by
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.
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..."
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RE: .. really?
3/22/2008 4:40:22 AM
> "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
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?
3/22/2008 8:48:07 AM
I read most of that stuff in my teens. The last sci-fi books I read were
, and Zamayatin's
. 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.
was actually decent.
Anyways, Clarke won't be forgotten any time soon.
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