Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, R.I.P.

The last of the big three of classic SF has left the planet. Glenn Reynolds says: "The world is better for his having lived, and worse for his having died." We may all hope for such a notice. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says: "He rejoiced to live in a gigantic universe of unencompassable scale, and he thought the rest of us should rejoice, too." Jerry Pournelle says: "Farewell, old friend." Ann Althouse quotes: "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible." John Derbyshire says: "His feet were always planted firmly in known fact, while his mind soared through infinite space and time." Charlie Martin says: "By his 90th birthday, Clarke had seen the world go from aircraft of cloth and wood to robotic starships, made of metal and silicon, sending back reports from the deep cold dark between the stars." NY Times obit here; an appreciation by Jeff VanderMeer at Amazon's Omnivoracious.

From the NY Times article that gets Glenn Reynolds's name wrong [see first comment]:

"I get fed up with things you can't solve one way or another," he said. "I'm not a dreamer, never have been. I think of myself as somebody who looks at scientific things, and asks: 'Where can we go with this? How can we use this to make our world better?' And I hope that in some small way I have helped push the process forward."
He did that.

It's hard to think of a favorite Clarke story, there are so many. Against the Fall of Night would be the one, of all of them, if I had to pick one. I first read it in the expanded version as The City and the Stars, with this cover by Richard Powers. But at this moment, "The Nine Billion Names of God" [link via] is the one that comes to mind: "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out."


Hector Owen said...

Reynolds mentions that he nominated Clarke for the Nobel Peace Prize, but that Yasser Arafat received it, that year, 1994. He is too gracious to mention in this post, which is, after all, about Arthur C. Clarke, that the Times got his name wrong in the article, and took 8 years to correct it. "Glenn Harlan Roberts," indeed. The newspaper of record has a lot of skips and scratches.

Hector Owen said...

And then there's this take on Nine Billion Names: XKCD.