Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Requiem: Arthur C. Clarke

Another science fiction legend has been lost: Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, 1917-2008. I wrote about Sir Arthur awhile back. He is one of my favorite SF authors and had a great deal of influence on my views of the future and my writing when I was first starting the practice.

The reasons I like Clarke's writing are easy to understand if one knows me well enough. He had a gift for the English language (one would hope so, him being a Brit). He believed in a positive future, and felt that not only was there life "out there" among the stars, but that it was benevolent and had wise things to teach us.

I can quote a few Clarke lines from memory, but the one that struck me closest comes from 2001: A Space Odyssey (and is repeated in most or all of its sequels):

And because in all the galaxy they could find nothing more precious than Mind, they encouraged its dawning everywhere.

Clarke was also adept at conveying a"sense of wonder," which many SF fans crave when trying to image worlds beyond our own. And like several of his peers (Asimov in particular), Clarke's future worlds were somewhat like Disney World: you knew you were going to enjoy it, you weren't going to get a lot of danger or violence, and you might expand your mind a little (scratch that--in a Clarke story, you were guaranteed to expand your mental horizons). Clarke was also quite the atheist. I hope the Powers That Be don't hold that too strongly against him in the afterlife. He brought joy to a great many people.

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