"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Oh my God, it's full of stars!

I was saddened to learn of the passing of one of my childhood inspirations, science-fiction writer extraordinaire Arthur C. Clarke, who died today at the age of 90 at his home in Sri Lanka from breathing problems associated with post-polio syndrome, which he had battled for years. Known for such classic novels as "Earthlight", "Islands in the Sky", and "The Hammer of God" among many others, he will no doubt best be remembered for "2001: A Space Odyssey", and his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick to produce the movie of the same name. Those of a particular age and proclivity will recall "2001" as one of those rite-of-passage films best experienced under the influence of certain, shall we say, "attitude-enhancements", which had a tendency to cause the viewer to exclaim "Oh, wow!" during various pivotal scenes. Nevertheless, even if one didn't indulge, it was still a mind-bending flick on many levels.

Like the scientist/author Sir Fred Hoyle before him, Clarke often wrote about a technologically advanced but prejudiced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. Not only a brilliant and creative writer, he was also a futurist; in 1945 he predicted the idea of communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit, and advanced the idea of space travel long before rockets were even test-fired.

He wrote his shortest-ever story in 2006 as an entry to Wired magazine's "Very Short Story" contest. The entire text ("God said, 'Cancel Program GENESIS.' The universe ceased to exist.") was four words longer than the contest rules allowed, but he refused to trim it.

Last year at his 90th birthday celebration, he was asked how he would like to be remembered. "I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter," he replied. "Of all these I would like to be remembered as a writer."

And that he shall. Open the pod bay doors, Hal.


  • At 3/19/2008 09:28:00 PM, Blogger Sphincter said…

    I know! I'm not a SciFi fan, but I was saddened to hear the news. Nice tribute, Mr Toast!

  • At 3/20/2008 09:01:00 AM, Blogger SupaCoo said…

    Lived til 90... house in Sri Lanka... did many things he was passionate about... Is it wrong to be jealous of a deceased man?


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