Wednesday, March 19, 2008

RIP, Arthur C. Clarke...

Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday at the age of 90, in his home in Columbo, Sri Lanka. He was the last of the surviving “Big Three” of science fiction (Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein) who had such an impact on the people who grew up in the '50s and '60s, as I did. He was a prolific author of both short stories and novels, but nothing he did was as well known as the movie 2001 Space Odyssey that he made with Stanley Kubrick.

In the early 1970s, I was in the Indian Ocean with the U.S. Navy, and I had occasion to visit Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon). Clarke was one of my boyhood heroes, so I looked him up – and got an invitation to dinner with him. Those of you who know me have probably already heard the story – the experience wasn't a particularly pleasant one. I won't repeat the story now, out of respect. But that bad experience aside, Clarke's body of work is something that has given me great enjoyment and even inspiration. I'm sad to know that there will be no more.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite Arthur C. Clarke quotes:
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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