Tuesday, March 18, 2008
not to mention sir arthur c. clarke, r.i.p.
and the third man today whose obituaries i feel compelled to post is arthur c. clarke, he of '2001: a space odyssey'. one of the reasons i loved 1950's and '60's science fiction was because of the things that the writers imagined that later came true. the bbc obit notes:
"Clarke's ideas and gadgets engaged his readers because of, not despite, their plausibility. Quite often, his fictional musings formed the basis of what we now see as science fact ... during the war, he published a paper in which he predicted that, at 22,000 miles above the Earth's surface, communications satellites would sit in geo-stationary orbit, allowing electronic signals to be bounced off them around the globe. His vision, soon proved, revolutionised the communications and broadcasting industry."
"The paradox of Clarke's fiction is that the writer most associated in the public mind with accurate "hard sf" predictions, based upon existing and potential technology and grounded in "real" science, returns again and again to themes of an almost mystical or metaphysical sort, in which advanced cultures, often benevolent, allow humanity to transcend its Earth-bound beginnings. These were expressed in Clarke's laws, of which the best-known was his dictum that "any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic"."
grauniad death notice
"Marking his “90th orbit of the sun” in December, the author said he did not feel "a day over 89" and made three birthday wishes: for ET to call, for man to kick his oil habit and for peace in Sri Lanka."
the times online
"Mr. Clarke was well aware of the importance of his role as science spokesman to the general population: “Most technological achievements were preceded by people writing and imagining them,” he noted. “I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon,” he added, if it had not been for H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. “I’m rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books.”"
"Mr. Clarke’s standard answer when journalists asked him outright if he was gay was, “No, merely mildly cheerful.”
Mr. Clarke reveled in his fame. One whole room in his house — which he referred to as the Ego Chamber — was filled with photos and other memorabilia of his career, including pictures of him with Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, and Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon."