The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke is dead

Died today in Sri Lanka at the age of 90. He co-created my favorite film of all time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and was the last of the three giants of Science Fiction's Golden Age: Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke.

In the early 80's I attended a gathering speculating about the Star Wars defense system, with a mind to provide opinions and recommendations to President Reagan. In addition to military men and a former astronaut, science fiction writers were also invited. One famous writer, a fierce hawk and an advocate of an active space defense system, was in attendance. Arthur Clarke was in Los Angeles promoting a book, and dropped by the meeting. Now, Clarke, who is credited with inventing the concept of the communications satellite, was very much against a space-based weapons system, and this put him in conflict with some of the other attendants, the Hawk in particular. The reception was cool. As a result, this great man ended up sitting by himself at lunch. It felt just a bit like a shunning. I sat with this man whose work had illuminated my childhood, and munching on chicken wings and potato salad we talked of space, the universe, and everything. For an hour and a half, I had him all to myself, and it was just wonderful. Just before he left, he said to me: "I've listened to their arguments about this defense system. And they make me fear for the future of the world."

In whatever far reaches you now travel, I hope that you have an enlightened perspective on our species, Mr. Clarke. And I hope that perspective says that not only are we going to do fine, but that your unique and irreplaceable contributions helped make it so.

The stars are just a little brighter tonight.


LaVeda H. Mason said...

A true legend and giant has left us this day...

RIP, Arthur C. Clarke.

You will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Like you I grew up on Clarke, Asimov and Heinlein. They were inspirational and Clarke will be missed.

Marty S

Anonymous said...

I don't know the propriety of such things, but this YouTube nine minute video was made by Sir Arthur in December and contains his reflections on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

Arthur Clarks reflections on his 90th Birthday

Mike R said...

The world was better for his being born and will be worse for his death. RIP Clarke.

Anonymous said...

I've only read one or two of his books. I can't remember for sure if I've read Childhood's End. I think I have but I can't remember anything about it. Rendezvous With Rama is the one I know I've read. That was interesting.

Whenever I think of Clarke the first thing I think of is Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I've always liked that little quote for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I've been a Clarke fan since reading Childhood's End over a quarter century ago. The novelization of 2001: A Space Odyssey and its successors stand out as some of the few works to capture the seer poetic beauty and majesty of space. I too recall the 80's, those days of Reagan's terrifying nuclear gambit, when Clarke, Caldicott and Sagan were a chorus of sanity amid the dim of genocidal bloodlust. More than his invention of the communications satellite or the inspiration many space enthusiasts derived from his writings, Clarke's actions during the Coldwar's Endgame may have ensured that our species indeed lives to travel the Universe and sing the Songs of Distant Earth. My first instinct's to mourn Sir Clarke's passing, but the sadness soon vanishes when my mind attains that vast perspective of the far reaches of space and time, which his works helped to nurture within my psyche.

"Although your life's done, your legacy's just begun, and the surf of far seas and stars shall yet sound your songs and celebrate your dreams fulfilled."