Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

I am of that age now that many of the people I consider my heroes from my childhood (for various reasons of accomplishment or wild talent) are in their 60s or above and I know that soon they will not be with us for much longer. The terrible morbid truth is that all my heroes probably have less time remaining on earth than they have spent walking it.

So it was no great surprise but it was with great sadness that noted author and visionary Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90. I hope his remaining years were in comfort and were happy ones. I confess to being perplexed by his living arrangements in Sri Lanka, but from what I saw in a rare filmed interview a few years ago he seemed to be enjoying himself.

Of course, like many Science Fiction fans of my generation it was the blockbuster novel Rendezvous With Rama that got me hooked on Clarke at a young age. His background aided him in putting "hard" facts of science into his writings and gave a sense of authenticity to his work. It is hard to point out a better author and creator among his contemporaries. Even when his personal and religious beliefs were echoed by the characters and in the structured reality of his works it wasn't a lecture as some writers are apt to force the reader to suffer through. Rather it merely added a sense of wonder to his created universes.

Rendezvous With Rama anecdote: When the book came out in paperback it was very popular among young readers. I often saw some well-worn and tattered library or personally-owned copy of Rama clutched in the hands of children as they rushed about to and from school. A good number of kids were deeply interested in the book and hopefully a love of reading stayed with them and grew. This unusual activity and enjoyment of books would again occur years later (though with much more media fanfare) as the Harry Potter series diverted children away from television and video games and children everywhere lugged around hardbound copies of the Rowling books. Once again, Arthur C. Clarke was ahead of the curve.


  1. Rendevous with Rama was my first Clarke novel though I had read Asimov and others first.

    2001 and it's sequels didn't work as well with me.

    Mr. Clarke will be missed.

  2. 2001 (the film) totally blew me away. Absolutely breathtaking.

    I liked the film so much that I read the book, even though my eight-year-old mind was not really up for it (it was a lot harder than the Heinlein juveniles I was burning through).

    Two years ago, I taught a middle school history class on the Cold War era. Two of the most important "texts" that I used were "Doctor Strangelove" (the nightmare of our present) and "2001" (the hope of a transcendant future).

    Hell, I still believe in a future, built through technology and reason, that can transcend the depravity of our present.

    Thank you, Mr. Clarke.

  3. Whose crotch is that astronaut nestled in?


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