Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

Arthur C. Clarke, the legendary science fiction writer, has died at the age of 90.

His most famous work was 2001: A Space Odyssey, which he developed along with director Stanley Kubrick. One of the most important science fiction films ever made, its influence can be seen from the fact that the Apollo 13 command module was called Odyssey.

As well as novels (such as Rendezvous With Rama) and numerous short stories, Clarke was also credited with the idea that geostationary satellites would be ideal telecommunications relays. Though he said that he never expected it to happen in his lifetime, this concept has, of course, become central to modern communications technology.

The news of Arthur C Clarke's death came too late last night for many of the British newspapers to include full obituaries today, but there are lengthy tributes in The L.A. Times and by Gerald Jonas in The New York Times.
Mr. Clarke’s influence on public attitudes toward space was acknowledged by American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, by scientists like the astronomer Carl Sagan and by movie and television producers. Gene Roddenberry credited Mr. Clarke’s writings with giving him courage to pursue his “Star Trek” project in the face of indifference, even ridicule, from television executives.

In his later years, after settling in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Mr. Clarke continued to bask in worldwide acclaim as both a scientific sage and the pre-eminent science fiction writer of the 20th century.
Update (20.03.08): There are now numerous obituaries and tributes online, including in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and by Anthony Tucker in The Guardian.
Apart from his huge output of fiction and scientific books, Clarke left us his Three Laws. These are touched by the kind of eternal practicality which make his science fiction so effective and reveal his inner convictions:

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The limits of the possible can only be found by going beyond them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology may, at first, be indistinguishable from magic.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks. I thought it rather tawdry that The Times obituary commented on the Sunday Mirror's 1998 pederasty allegations - found by the Sri Lankan authorities to be without basis and withdrawn with an apology - in veiled "no smoke without fire" terms.

    British Newspapers Online: Sir Arthur C Clarke


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