19 March 2008

Arthur C. Clarke (1917–2008)

Arthur C. Clarke has passed Jupiter and gone Beyond the Infinite, at the age of 90. The venerable science fiction author died in Sri Lanka, where he had made his home since 1956. He was a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Chancellor of the International Space University, a Knights Bachelor, and most important, a Grand Master of Science Fiction.

Clarke was one of the most influential science-fiction writers, and he also had a large impact on the space program (he developed the idea of using geosynchronous satellites for telecommunications) and film (he co-authored the greatest SF film ever, 2001: A Space Odyssey and wrote the companion novel). He was a visionary beyond the page, and his influence will be felt in the space programs of the world from now until we finally meet the folks who built Rama face to face (or whatever they have as an equivalent to a face).

Like any science-fiction reader, I’ve gone through a hefty share of Sir Arthur’s work. Rendezvous with Rama, Childhood’s End, and the story “The Nine Billion Names of God” are my favorites. I’ve never had much affection for 2001, however, principally because I adore the film so much and prefer the visualization of the story over its text version. I do love the story that inspired 2001, “The Sentinel.”

Of Clarke’s “Three Laws,” the third one has had a large affect on my writing: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This is the guiding principle behind a certain science-fantasy series of mine, as you will soon discover. (Hint that there is further news forthcoming.)