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RIP: Arthur C. Clarke

According to Associated Press, Arthur C. Clarke has died. He celebrated his 90th birthday not so long ago; I'd have to characterise him as one of the writers who stimulated by interest in SF, and who I really wanted to meet and thank one day.




Oh man. You know its coming but still it hits hard. My parents gave me a paperback of "Childhood's End" when I was 10 or so. It set the hook deep. I went on to "Rama" and the short stories (I was always annoyed at the stars all going out at the same time in "9 Billion Names"; I think even God should hae to obey speed of light). I owe him unpayable debts.


'Earthlight' was the first of his books that I read. I'll always remember the title of his essay on how he came up with the concept of comsats: 'How I lost a billion dollars in my spare time'. The idea was so far ahead of its time (1945) he was unable to patent it.



I can turn my head now and see several of his in my bookcase - The Songs of Distant Earth, 2001 A Space odyssey, The Fountains of Paradise, Greetings Carbon-based Bipeds and 3001 The Final Odyssey; and I know if I pull out some of the more recent books by Gibson, Robinson, Haldeman et al I'll find the rest of Clarke's behind them. Which is the way it should be. Damn. Losing Isaac was bad, this is no better.


My father met him once. He was a fan of Clarke (and I suppose got me into SF) and held Clarke's former position of (a very junior Auditor) in the old Exchequer & Audit Department. Clarke came back to visit and apparently my Dad now occupied his desk. To him that was almost as big as seeing Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt a couple of years previously.


One of the greats passes, but also by all accounts one of the nicest. White, Clement, Clarke, the nice guys fall one by one...

Damn damn damn.


RIP :( I remember reading Rendezvous with Rama way back in the early 80's. It blew me away. In an eerie coincidence I found "Prelude to Space" in paperback in the recycling room at work today. I just started to read it...


Seeing (and even more so, reading) 2001 as a young child put its imprint on me very deeply. At the time it seemed so -- reasonable -- but as I've grown up, I realize most people don't look at the world that way. What a shame.


David S @3 I can do the same but my vision is caught on a green NEL four square science fiction edition of 'Prelude to Space' at a price of three shillings and sixpence (17 1/2 pence) a fortune when you're 13. Another book that catches my eye is his autobiographical work 'Glide Slope' and having worked as a radar development technician I could relate extremely well to his situation.

For me he was an essential bridge into the world of Science Fiction and the work of Heinlein, Asimov, et al

RIP Sir Arthur


"2001: A Space Odyssey" is (IMHO) the best film ever made. Clarke's ideas and Kubrick's implementation were the perfect match. That film is the closest thing to a religious experience I have ever experienced in my life. I'll have to watch it again soon -- it's been too long. Amazingly, every time I watch it, I find another subtle piece of symbolism that I've missed in all my previous viewings (things happening in threes, the marriage references, the birthdays, Zarathustra's "God is dead" message, Bowman's death and rebirth, the paintings in the alien "hotel room", HAL's death song that's actually a marriage proposal, ...). Few films can claim to be about the entire human race, but Kubrick and Clarke pulled it off. RIP, Sir Arthur.



I started reading science-fiction with his books and Asimov's. I had nothing new to read (I was 8) and my father gave me the Foundation trilogy. The next week the newspaper we used to buy started publishing a sci-fi book every week for the duration of the summer and the first books were "Prelude to space", "The City and the Stars" and "Earthlight." I'm would not be the person I am, I wouldn't have made the same personal and professional choices without the books I read that summer.



I have a number of personal anecdotes about Sir Arthur C. Clarke, from meetings that we'd had in New York and California, but this is not the time nor place for them.

Suffice it to say that he was one of people who shaped both my literary and scientific careers, and with whom I was honored to be professionally associated.

I was the least of the coeditors of Project Solar Sail [ed. David Brin, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jonathan Vos Post, New American Library (Penguin USA), 1990] paperback ISBN 0451450027, $4.50.

I wrote the preface to a published collection of the snail-mail correspondence between Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Dunsany.

I had a standing invitation to visit him any time that I was in Sri Lanka. I shall always be sad that I never had the chance to accept this invitation. But that is more than compensated by the thrill of being at least an acquaintance of his.

What a pity that he was short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize, but did not live long enough to receive it. He was clearly more deserving than some who did win that prize, but, after all, that's Politics.


Wherever he is, I bet it's full of stars.


His writing made an indelible impression on me at the age of 9, and the view of the strange and wonderful universe he wrote about has stayed with me for more than half a century now. Few people have made as much of a mark as he did on so many people. It may be that, if enough people can hear what he had to say that us poor monkeys might actually survive long enough to grow up. RIP, Sir Arthur.


He made the world I live in, richer. He fired my imagination, made me see things, through his writing I came to love the future and the stars.

oh my god it's full of stars RIP


I cannot remember when I first read an ACC story - probably "Critical Mass", about 1953/4, when I was 7/8. I think I've got all the anthologies and novels, sitting up on my SF wall to the right as I type this. Terry Pratchett gave a good short eulogy on Radio 4 this morning.

I suppose I'll have to put my DVD of "2001" on soon, though how much of it I will actually see through the tears is uncertain.

Ave atque Vale.

"In this universe, the light was falling: the shadows were lengthening towards an East that would not know another dawn. But, elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered: and along the path he had once followed, Man would one day go again."


When I was growing up in the late 70's Arthur C. Clarke was the closest thing to a 'hero' that I had. I still have all his novels and many of his non-fiction books and re-read them regularly. Only yesterday I changed the wallpaper on my laptop to a 2001 graphic. I can't help but feel very, very sad today - it's like a childhood friend has died. Fergie


Oh, fuck.

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do..... No carrier.


He wrote the first SF I ever read.

My folks bought me "Of Time and Stars" when I was about 10 - it was as I recall a collection of short stories deemed suitable for older children. From there it was the Arthur C Clarke books in the library. Most of them were in Gollanz yellow covers, so so when I ran out of Clarke, I moved onto other "less suitable" shaping my mind for all time.

Farewell old timer.


I can't even remember when or how did I discover his works, but long before I was 18 I had read pretty much everything published in Spanish. I even pestered one of my uncles until he lent me his copy of '2001'... I still have it now, some 30 years later, and my 2001 DVD is by far the movie I have watched more times.

Then I started to think Arthur C. Clarke was a bit passé... and he retaliated with 'Rendezvous with Rama', 'Imperial Earth' and 'The Fountains of Paradise'. That should teach me some humility. Truely he was one of the very greatest.

Today the world is a place less interesting. RIP.


Of Time and Stars; a gift from my cool engineering grandad! And he's not looking too well either.


Like many here, I started reading ACC's stories at such a young age, I don't really remember ever having not read them. As with Asimov and Adams, his work has simply formed part of my mental landscape.


I was, when he was featured on This Is Your Life, astonished to learn that my mother knew his Physics teacher.

There were two boarding schools in Taunton, one for boys and one for girls. My mother was a (young) matron for the girls' school in the early fifties. Both had local day-pupils, and there were several teacher married couples, one working in each school.


Here's a link to diary entries by ACC during the writing of 2001, excerpted from Lost Worlds of 2001:

November l0. Accompanied Stan and the design staff into the Earth-orbit ship and happened to remark that the cockpit looked like a Chinese restaurant. Stan said that killed it instantly for him and called for revisions. Must keep away from the Art Department for a few days.

Clarke's writings remain the pride of my library collection. I still like to dip into his old SF, especially the short stories, and re-experience them, even though many are over 50 years old and belong to another time. I still prefer his very spare form of writing, both in his fiction and non-fiction. His non-fiction works are the epitomy of clarity, exceeded by relatively few since.

I was fortunate to run into him at the beginning of the 1980's at a hotel in London and got to speak to him for a short while before parting.

I will miss his presence.

On a brighter note, no doubt the "Clarkives" will now be opened and perhaps we can expect a fuller and complete biography in the future.


He was among the nicest and funniest of beings, able to generate puns of cosmic awfulness -- and to laugh at himself as heartily as at anything.

I got to know him -- and publish him -- a bit during my years editing OMNI (Arthur did some early commercials for the magazine; anybody remember them?) and he was always a delight, always laughing.

I've put a couple of the funnier of my Arthur Clarke stories here -- and hope that it's alright that I put the url here.

He was that rarest of avas: a great visionary who was also a great guy.


I guess you might have seen this, but for those who hasn't.

The last recorded message from Arthur C Clarke


"I can tell you're upset about this, Dave."


I was really upset when I read this - he was one of my favorite authors. I'd really hoped that he'd make it to 2010.


I started reading Clarke before two humans were in orbit simultaneously. As a result, Prelude to Space, A Fall of Moondust, Islands in the SKy, The Sands of Mars, etc. shaped my view of what the future would be like. Heck, I remember him having Great Britian in a race with the U.S. and Russia to get to the Moon first, having the Coca Cola logo be produced in lunar orbit as a "test" of a piece of equipment, etc.

And his "Star-mangled spanner" had me roaring with laughter. He was a titan.


I'm glad he at least made 2001. It seems very strange that he's gone. Funny, I'd just pulled out my copy of Rendezvous and set it on the table in the To Reread Pile when I learnt the news. RIP.


Oh, I've cut out his newspaper obituary, and folded it into my copy of the famous "Wireless World" paper on the feasibility of satellite communications .........


I recently read "The Fountains of Paradise". Arthur C. Clarke was one of the greats. He will be missed.



I guess, like many, I have to thank him (with perhaps one or two other authors) for the fact that I still read for pleasure. In the dark days of studying for an Engligh Higher, I was turned off reading for pleasure thanks to the books we had to read (Thomas Hardy can still induce a nervous twitch). During those days, and for a couple of years afterwards, he was one of the very few authors I would read (and enjoy).

I never understood why we didn't study him at school, in Maths or Physics if not in English.

(I like the User Friendly cartoon tribute to him, though I feel he needs no better that his legacy of books, ideas and those he inspired.)


Keith @25, the next time you post on Charlie's blog, spell your name in your URL right! It's been, what, 12 years since we "worked" together? You may remember me as OMNI Muse. Good to see your pixels again. You might see more of mine if you allowed OpenID on your blog (I talk to Ellen on LJ -- haven't heard from any others in a while).



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 18, 2008 9:50 PM.

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