19 March 2008

RIP: Arthur C Clarke

Sir Arthur C Clarke CBE
16 Dec 1917 – 19 Mar 2008

ZUI this article from the BBC:
British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

The Somerset-born author came to fame in 1968 when short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.

His visions of space travel and computing sparked the imagination of readers and scientists alike.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse paid tribute, hailing the writer as a "great visionary".

Since 1995, the author had been largely confined to a wheelchair by post-polio syndrome.

He died at 0130 local time (2000 GMT) of respiratory complications and heart failure, according to his aide, Rohan De Silva.

ZUI also this article from the Boston Globe:
The visionary author won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future. The 1968 story "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- written simultaneously as a novel and screenplay with director Stanley Kubrick -- was a frightening prophecy of artificial intelligence run amok.

One year after it made Clarke a household name in fiction, the scientist entered the homes of millions of Americans alongside Walter Cronkite anchoring television coverage of the Apollo mission to the moon.

Clarke also was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.


Planetary scientist Torrence Johnson said Clarke's work was a major influence on many in the field.

more stories like thisJohnson, who has been exploring the solar system through the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini missions in his 35 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recalled a meeting of planetary scientists and rocket engineers where talk turned to the author.

"All of us around the table said we read Arthur C. Clarke," Johnson said. "That was the thing that got us there."


Clarke, a British citizen, won a host of science fiction awards, and was named a Commander of the British Empire in 1989. Clarke was officially given a knighthood in 1998, but he delayed accepting it for two years after a London tabloid accused him of being a child molester. The allegation was never proved.

I've read several of Clarke's books, of course, including Against the Fall of Night, The City and the Stars and, most recently, Tales from the White Hart. My favourites by him are Rendezvous with Rama (though I didn't care for its sequels) and "The Sentinel" (the short story which was expanded into 2001: A Space Odyssey).

A bibliography of Clarke's works can be found at Fantastic Fiction.

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