Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90

Arthur C. Clarke died, aged 90, today.

I'll make no bones about this: I'm a Science Fiction nut. I love the stuff. Today, however, is a sad day for the genre in general. One of the best-known authors of our time has passed on. Arthur C. Clarke (click here for a biography and bibliography) is probably best known as the author of the book "Sentinel", better known as "2001: A Space Odyssey". The success of the movie spurred three further books, as readers bought the first book, but only the second novel, without Clarkes' involvement, has been made into a further movie.

Clarkes' novel "Islands in the Sky" is the first Clarke novel I can recall reading. If I recall correctly, I read the book when I was eight or nine. Sci-Fi has always held a fascination for me ever since then. I should say well-written Sci-Fi, really. There's a lot of so-called Sci-Fi that should really be re-categorised as Science Fantasy, not Science Fiction, but Clarke never descended to that level. His novels, always thought provoking, impeccably and intelligently written, were a staple for me into my teens and beyond. With his contemporaries, Isaac Asimov (also sadly departed), Larry Niven (still with us), H. Beam Piper (sadly departed well before his time), and many others, came to epitomise the golden age of science fiction, which Clarke only entered late on in the period; his novel "The Sentinel" was, after all, written for the BBC in 1948 (and rejected, but that's the Beeb for you, nearly always getting it monstrously wrong!).

However late in entering the mainstream he was, enter he did, and with success. His is the British voice who brought us the geosynchronous communications satellite, the HAL-9000, and the Space Elevator - only one of those, in fact, is currently realised - the first. We're close to the second, and if material sciences and finances can meet the challenge, we may even see the third within the next hundred years - hopefully sooner!

Sir Arthur, you'll be missed. Godspeed, sir.

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