The BBC has the news of Sir Arthur’s death, and an obituary.
I don’t know what to say. There was a sense in which Arthur C Clarke was science fiction, for me. Looking at my shelves, I don’t actually own that many of his books; but I’ve read a lot of them, and they always seemed to capture the best — grandest, most noble — of the potential of science fiction. And, of course, his influence on some of my favourite writers and novels was evident.
I think I will read, or re-read, some of his fiction soon. Right now, I think I’ll go outside and look at the stars.
4 thoughts on “Sir Arthur C Clarke, 1917–2008”
What a curious and often wrongheaded obituary! (The paragraph on Clarke’s origination of the idea of the geostationary communications satellite is just poorly written, “The Sentinel” (not Sentinel) is a short story, not a book, and I don’t know what to make of that weird last paragraph about his lifestyle.)
But let’s not damn the obit, let’s celebrate the man! He was my favorite writer at my “Golden Age”, and he continued to please me when, for instance, I read The Fountains of Paradise for the first time just a few years ago and was surprised at how very good that rather late book is. His stories had both “sense of wonder” and “sense of humanity”. A wonderful writer, and though I didn’t know him personally, he always seemed a wonderful man. I miss him.
The New York Times obit is much more extensive and much better.
I reread 2010 within recent months, and I was struck by how thoroughly compassionately disposed to human beings the embedded assumptions of the text were.
I remember him mostly as the bloke who did those Fortean TV shows in the 1980’s. He’d start every episode by reminding us that he conceived the telecommunications satellite and ever since, whenever it was mentioned I’d grin as I imagined that he’d slip it into conversation within minutes of meeting you, like corporal Jones in Dad’s Army always going on about being in Sudan with general Kitchener.
Needless to say, he was one of the greats. Regardless of how many of his books we might have read, we have all been touched by his influence and his legacy, right down to the award that bears his name.
The “lifestyle” comments are horrid as they thrive on the fact that Clarke is from a time and place where one didn’t really discuss one’s sexuality, one kept it as a private matter. A decision which he lived his life by and is, ironically enough, probably quite alien to many of his younger readers nowadays :-)
Jason: thanks. And here’s the Guardian obit, which is itself written by a dead man.