Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sir Arthur C. Clarke 1917-2008

"The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."

The first real science fiction novel I ever read was Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moondust. I've always been a bit of a "bus-spotter" and a "disaster movie" fan so a novel that basically amounts to a moon bus getting buried was right up my alley. And this Clarke guy wrote pretty good.
Then I read Childhood's End. This Clarke guy wrote like a genius.
Then I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey. This Clarke guy wrote like a god.
It's my guess that Clarke would bristle if he knew he was being compared to a god, but he most assuredly was a giant of the genre. Now one less giant walks among us.
The last of the so-called "Big Three" of Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, it was the works of Arthur C. Clarke that I was drawn to. Heinlein may have been the best "pure sf" writer of the three, but no-one could match Clarke for a sense of wonder, and as I hit my Golden Age of Science Fiction (12), Clarke was enjoying a surge of popularity and literary acclaim with Imperial Earth, Rendezvous with Rama, and The Fountains of Paradise.
Clarke was one of the last links to the real Golden Age of sf and the elder statesman of our maligned genre. Never one to shy away from the media spotlight, Clarke would often promote science and space exploration any chance he could get.
He is credited with creating the concept of communications satellites in geosynchronous orbits and these orbits are now referred to as Clarke orbits. (He never patented the idea, prompting a 1965 essay that he subtitled, "How I Lost a Billion Dollars in My Spare Time.")
He wrote over 100 books, he was nominated for an Academy Award as co-writer of the screenplay for 2001 and he even appears on-screen twice in the sequel, 2010. He first published story was "Loophole" in 1946; this fall, his latest novel, The Last Theorem -- a collaboration with Frederik Pohl, will be published. He won three Hugos and three Nebulas.

I feel like I just got punched in the gut. They hurt. They all hurt. This one hurts a lot.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic."
"The truth, as always, will be far stranger."
"Sometimes I think we're alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we're not. In either case the idea is quite staggering."
"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong. "
"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean."
-- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

1 comment:

  1. kristina10:22 a.m.

    So sad... I thought by now he'd have figured out a way to transfer his brain into a receptacle of some sort to keep on going forever...