1. says

    This is indeed alarming. Other valuable news sources fail to mention the good long run. One would have hoped that there would be people around him to advise against such carefree activities at his age. I hope that he was not goaded into this foolish attempt at athleticism by someone who stood to profit from his will.

  2. says

    I’m sorry to hear the news, although he did have a good and long life. He was one of my formative influences; I’m sad to see him go.

  3. Seamus Rua says

    “I would defend the liberty of concenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.” – Arthur C. Clarke, 1984: Spring (1984).

    “I have encountered a few creationists and because they were usually nice, intelligent people, I have been unable to decide whether they were _really_ mad, or only pretending to be mad. If I was a religious person, I would consider creationism nothing less than blasphemy. Do its adherents imagine that God is a cosmic hoaxer who has created that whole vast fossil record for the sole purpose of misleading mankind?” – Arthur C. Clarke, June 5, 1998, in the essay Presidents, Experts, and Asteroids, pp 1532-3

    Slan leat Sir Clarke, say ‘hi’ to the Monolith for us!

  4. Kseniya says

    Oh, my. His Childhood’s End proved to be one of the very first stepping-stones on my path to skepticism.

    RIP, Sir Arthur.

  5. MorpheusPA says

    Oddly, I heard the news just as I finished Firstborn by Clarke/Baxter. Equally oddly, I then felt guilty for hating the ending and railing to the fates, “This doesn’t answer anything!

    Well, I’ll go dig out the Collected Stories. Some of those were quite good, and a nice way of remembering him.

  6. says

    Sir Arthur’s work was a boundless source of delight, from his wonderful science writing (including how he lost billions of dollars by not getting a patent on the idea of geosynchronous communications satellites) to his fiction (especially those with great embedded ideas, like the space elevator of Fountains of Paradise). Sure, his output was uneven, particularly as he turned more of his ideas over to less talented coauthors, but Clarke’s work was always worth the time invested in reading and pondering it.

    I count myself fortunate to be a child of the Clarke era.

  7. Alex says

    “…Do its adherents imagine that God is a cosmic hoaxer who has created that whole vast fossil record for the sole purpose of misleading mankind?” – Arthur C. Clarke, June 5, 1998, in the essay Presidents, Experts, and Asteroids, pp 1532-3

    “Well it’s easy if you try” – John Lennon

  8. Kyle says

    2001 had a very influential effect on my becoming a science-minded individual; it helped to break the spell that my religious upbringing had cast on my thought process.

  9. JM says

    ‘A phrase from an old American novel (he had forgotten the author) kept coming into his mind: “Remember them as they were — and write them off.”‘ Arthur C. Clarke, meta-quoting Ernest Hemingway, in “The Hammer of God”.

    I think I liked his novel “The Songs of Distant Earth” best of all, as I found it gently haunting. It would make a wonderful film, if the director were to stay true to the original.

    I had the honour to meet Arthur, very briefly, exchanging just a few words, after a lecture he gave at the Royal Insitution in 1980 about the concept of a space elevator.

  10. Crudely Wrott says

    I never got to meet Arthur, but I always felt a special closeness to him. His imagination seemed to be resonant with mine in his marvelous fiction. Together we went to many wonderful places and saw many amazing things.

    His broad command of science instructed and informed me about many things I might never have thought of, thereby missing some of the fun of living in this extraordinary place. So he has for many years been not only a good natured teacher he has also been a fellow space cadet, learning with me as we strode among the stars.

    I never got to meet Arthur, but there were only two degrees of separation between us. In 1990 I was in a jewelry store in Florida. The pleasant girl on the other side of the counter was in countenance and speech not from Florida so I asked here where she called home.

    “I am from Sri Lanka,” she said with obvious pride. I told her that I knew a bit of her homeland. (My mother once presented me with a book titled “Zoo Hunt in Ceylon” circa 1960.) I then declared that one of my favorite authors lived there, in Columbo. “His name is Arthur C. Clarke.”

    “Oh! I know him!” she said with a smile and wide eyes. “I used to see him at the local swimming pool on Saturdays. Early morning. He told me he felt like he needed to swim every day. He was so nice. I miss our morning swims.”

    I’ve reconstructed her words but that’s the gist of it. There I was, shopping for a very particular piece of jewelry. Something quite specific, it so happened. And without prelude (unless you count all the years I had known Arthur and how much I knew about what he thought of certain things) I am suddenly presented with a treasure of a delightfully different kind by a stranger from a far place, in a small shop I visited only that one time.

    She then helped me to find the very piece I was looking for and took great care in preparing a gift box and securing the piece within.

    Goodbye, Arthur, old friend.

  11. Sergeant Zim says

    ACC, surley one of the all-time great minds. By popularizing the future, and making it a goal to be desired, rather than feared, he helped humanity achieve far more than we probably would have had he not been with us.

    The Universe is a poorer place now that he is gone, along with his only equals: Robert Heinlien, and Isaac Asimov.

    Sir Arthur, you will be missed.

  12. says

    Had he only invented the stationary orbiting satellite, he’d have been a hero worthy of great acclamation. But that was just the overture.

    Sad day for the rest of us.

  13. Ted D says

    This is sad news. His books were among my first love affairs with literature after I discovered the wonderful world of the library as a kid. The world is a little less today.

    I will admit that in recent years I have occasionally felt a need to check if he was still alive. Till today, he always was, to my delight. I sort of half expected him to live forever.

  14. says

    when I was around 10, in the late 60s, I read his story Dog Star, about a dogonaut. being crazy about dogs and space, I wrote him a fan letter, to which he promptly replied. my parents were tremendously impressed that I got a letter from a famous writer, and I think the event really helped legitimize my interests in science and sf for them. he was a gracious man.

    my epigram in my high school yearbook was his quote, “The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.” not a bad motto for a high school kid.

    as it happens, this very morning I finished rereading Childhood’s End for the first time in maybe 20 years. It is literally an awesome book.

    I’m sad at his loss.

  15. RamblinDude says

    Wow, end of an era. I grew up with science fiction, and I remember reading “Rendezvous with Rama” many years ago. For some reason, the part about the men traversing all those stair steps always stayed with me, especially how smart one of the men was in calculating how difficult it was going to be to traverse all those steps. It was a cautionary tale to plan carefully when faced with unknown variables. And I loved that forehead smacker of an ending.

    He was one of the greats, and he lived long enough to see the real “2001” and beyond. I can’t help but wonder if he was disappointed.

  16. Glen says

    “I sort of half expected him to live forever.”

    Ted, you got it. Not to be too schmaltzy here, but for me, he will. I just dug out my copy of “The City and the Stars.” I’m heading off to my local diner for a bittersweet hour.

  17. Kevin says

    “Prelude to Foundation (1988): The first Foundation novel.
    Forward the Foundation (1993): The second Foundation novel, made up of four novellas and an epilog.
    Foundation (1951): The third Foundation novel, made up of four stories originally published between 1942 and 1944, plus an introductory section written for the book in 1949.
    Foundation and Empire (1952): The fourth Foundation novel, made up of two stories originally published in 1945.
    Second Foundation (1953): The fifth Foundation novel, made up of two stories originally published in 1948 and 1949.
    Foundation’s Edge (1982): The sixth Foundation novel.
    Foundation and Earth (1983): The seventh Foundation novel.

  18. Willo the Wisp says

    I diagree with you about the quality of his his later works, PZ. The collaborations with Stephen Baxter are especially good.

  19. Glen says

    Hillary Retting:

    Okay, commenters, we’re are almost IM’ing here…

    I never saw that quote. But it has an almost Browning-eque quality: “A Man’s [sic] reach should exceed his grasp. Else what’s a heaven for?”

    Science fiction and poetry? Yep.

  20. says

    I’m torn. I appreciate what he did for others, but except for Songs of Distant Earth, I really didn’t “get off” on most of his work. It was good, but much like Larry Niven’s — it’s too full of technology and engineering and not enough character development and interpersonal relationships.

    Still, Science Fiction was better off with him than without him. And if he wasn’t the greatest writer in science fiction, he was a good one and I did enjoy his output.

  21. says

    Used to tell people that I was this close –| |– to being his grandson. My grandfather’s name was Arthur D. Clarke.

    Despite family loyalty I was never a raving fan, but I do remember reading Childhood’s End with some enthusiasm. Moreover, Clarke seemed to be at the most basic level a good person. The world’s better for having hosted him.

  22. Nemo says

    I remember him saying — I can’t find the exact quote now, but — he hoped to live long enough to visit Mars once the tourist flights began, and he intended to make it to the Moon. I’d always hoped he would.

  23. SeanMcCorkle says

    How many generations did he inspire? My dad’s and mine at least, and I’m fifty. I saw him at the National Geographic Society building in D.C. – he read excerpts from the soon to be published Imperial Earth.
    Favorites: Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, Against the Fall of Night, The Fountains of Paradise, but I still think the all time best was the anthology Reach for Tomorrow.
    ( JM: I liked Songs of Distant Earth too – very Clarke)

  24. David Wilford says

    Farewell to the last of science fiction’s “Big Three” (Azimov, Clarke, Heinlein) and with it my own Childhood’s End.

  25. says

    Childhood’s End was probably my favorite, but yeah, I have to agree — he wasn’t a very writerly writer, more of a writer to engineers. It’s a good niche, and he did throw out a lot of interesting ideas.

  26. Interrobang says

    I was never a raving fan of his (my tastes in SF sort of fell into the “non-Campbellian” camp), but I’m glad I got to share the world with him for a while at least. I might not have liked his writing all that much, but I love telecommunications.

    Has anyone ever collected a list of current, real-world inventions (et cetera) that were directly inspired by science fiction and/or science fiction writers? I’m just asking because someone upthread mentioned communications satellites, and I can think of a few more off the top of my head, which is great ammo for the next jerk who asks you “Why do you read that crap?”

  27. John C. Randolph says

    I will always think of him as the man who should have had a patent on the communications satellite.


  28. Geoff says

    I thought he was a very good science fiction writer. He was also a real scientist. He will be missed.

  29. Hank Fox says

    Say what you will about your own small opinion of his writing (personally, I liked quite a lot of it), but …

    This planet is better for having had Arthur C. Clarke on it.

    Only hope that someone will be able to say that about each of us.

    From the back pages of “3001”:

    For visual evidence supporting Khan’s startling assertion that most of mankind had been at least partially insane, see Episode 22, “Meeting Mary,” in my television series Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious Universe. And bear in mind that Christians represent only a very small subset of our species: far greater numbers of devotees than those who have ever worshipped the Virgin Mary have given equal reverence to such totally incompatible divinities as Rama, Kali, Siva, Thor, Wotan, Jupiter, Osiris, etc., etc.


    For details of the Inquisition, whose pious atrocities make Pol Pot and the Nazis look positively benign, see Carl Sagan’s devastating attack on New Age nitwittery, “The Demon Haunted World.” I wish it […] could be made required reading in every high school and college.


    Finally, I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion that Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being).

    Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and unhappy. But it is best of all to be sane and happy.

    Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.

    — Arthur C. Clarke / Colombo, Sri Lanka / Sept. 19, 1996

  30. says

    actually Childhood’s End has pretty good characters. The book is incredibly moving, and perhaps because it’s essentially about death – of our species, and of individuals, and of collective and individual dreams – I think I “get” it now, at age 49, much more than I ever did when younger.

  31. says

    Asimov and Clarke were the twin suns of my teenage literary world. However, Clarke’s fiction has not aged well, both as my tastes have matured, and as the SF genre has evolved. 30+ years later, much of his writing seems, well, trite — short on character, long on technology. Clarke wrote a lot of what I call “travelog to the future” — somewhat contrived tours of the moon colony and stuff like that.

    BUT: at the time, it thrilled me — whole towns of people on Luna, Mars, etc. Mental landscapes covering a billion years of the human future. Voyages to the stars. The Apollo program was going strong during much of my childhood, and I saw it as the first step on the road that Clarke had laid out.

    So for giving one nerdy kid a good innoculation of the sense of wonder, thank you Arthur.

  32. says

    Aww c’mon PZ, you could’ve found something a little bit nicer to say about him. He’s not a crazy creationist or anything – he’s one of our own! You don’t need to wear that same gruff atheist face all the time :-P

  33. Bill Dauphin says

    FWIW, his wiki is already updated to reflect his passing. Take that, wiki haters!

    What of ACC’s later work I read mostly left me cold (esp. the Gentry Lee collaborations), and even some of his biggest sellers (e.g., Rama, Imperial Earth) were distinguished more by their scope than by storytelling, but it hardly matters: Childhood’s End alone would’ve made him a giant, along with “The Sentinel” (from which sprang 2001) and a host of other short stories including “The Nine Billion Names of God.”

    This is to say nothing of his incalculable contributions as an engineer, popularizer of spaceflight, and humanist.

    And, of course, there’s the Three Laws.

    He will be greatly missed.

  34. David Ratnasabapathy says

    I discovered his books in the British Council Library when I was a teenager. They stunned me. You read them and you think this could happen. The future might be this way.

    I’d haunt the library on Saturdays — go there in the morning grab a book and keep eye the returns bookshelf — searching for his books. You couldn’t find them on the shelves. Too popular. Everyone wanted them.

    His writings were so full of optimism. In Baxter’s books people are sweaty. They’re petty and they shit. But in Clarke’s books we’re godlings, boundlessly good, eyes bright with wonder, climbing a technological ladder to the sky.

    Thanks, ACC

  35. Bacopa says

    And let’s not forget his nonfiction writing. I bught an old edition of Profiles of the Future at a library discard sale in 1980. I made notes on the charts at the end of the book about what he gor right and wrong.

    And unlike other authors he was very concerned about the plight of the so-called “third world” and its role in the future. This concern came from his experience in late colonial India. In “Profiles” he imagined that satellite broadcasting might help a hundred Indian villages save two cows a year and understood what an impact that might have. He didn’t just think about big science, he saw how how big science might come to the aid of the poorest people of the earth to create real short term gains that would in time lift them out of poverty.

    I’ve never met anyone from Sri Lanka that didn’t claim him as at least a FOAF, and I live in a city where it’s not that hard to meet people from Sri Lanka.

  36. Hairy Doctor Professor says

    Clarke’s Third Law (“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”) is always part of my first lecture each semester about why it is important to understand how computers work the way they do. Some students seem a bit taken aback when I state rather categorically (and forcefully) that I have nothing good to say about magic, and that invoking it as an argument does little but stifle inquiry. At least they hear his name, and a few do know it.

    I got to hear him live around 1970 or so. I liked his talk, but I realized later that it was kind of a ramble and he hadn’t really covered the points he said he would cover. That left me somewhat disappointed, but I still read pretty much all the fiction he wrote up through “Rama” and occasional bits and pieces later.

    His later novels left me a bit cold, and I never really cared for “Childhood’s End”. Many of his short stories from the early-to-mid 1960s, however, really packed a punch. I once read “The Star” out loud to a Christian youth group (mostly my close friends) around the campfire nearly 35 years ago. Messed a few of them up for a very long time. They continued to put up with me even after that, and many still do, although at the time it wasn’t particularly clear why.

    Still and all: thank you, Sir Arthur, for everything you’ve done.

  37. mayhempix says

    Clarke was one of my favorite sci-fi writers along with Asimov, LeGuin, Benford and Brin.

    When I saw 2001 at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, it changed my life setting me off on a creative journey of art, music, writing and I became a successful filmmaker.

    The Rama series holds up incredibly well.

    He will be missed.

  38. Kseniya says

    “The Star” – OMG. I’m so glad someone mentioned that. I read it about ten years ago. I’d forgotten the title, but I remember the story. I suppose that was another stepping stone on my path…

  39. Hank Fox says

    Jeez, I’m just amazed at how many people are taking the time to sign on and pop off with comments about how much they didn’t like the man’s work.

    Far as I’m concerned, there’s still a helluva lot to like about Arthur C. Clarke.

    So he wasn’t perfect. So he wasn’t everything you personally might admire. So we don’t worship him. So you didn’t like one book or the other of his.

    He still lived an amazing life, and did huge amounts of good. He drew millions of us into an interest in and enthusiasm for science.

    Even considering him in the most negative light I can imagine, I can’t think of anything he ever did that deserves all these same-day hit-piece comments.

    That goes for you, too, PZ. I think you were way off base here. This guy was one of our people, one of the best of them, and dammit, he deserves better than all this nit-picking “don’t like” commentary.

  40. Grimgrin says

    One thing that doesn’t get mentioned about Clarke was that allot of his writing could be quite funny. Especially some of his short stories which functioned as extended shaggy dog stories with wonderful Sci-Fi settings. Anyone here who happens to recognize the line “Star Mangled Spanner” will know what I’m talking about.

  41. AlanWCan says

    Well, I never rated him as a writer–an ideas guy yes, maybe even a story guy, but I didn’t like his writing. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean anyone has to suddenly cease mentioning that he wasn’t a great writer (of course, he was certainly a better writer than me…)
    But he sure said some interesting things.

    “The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.” — Arthur C. Clarke

    And he called religion a disease of infancy so he’s alright by me.

  42. Grimgrin says

    Just found it:

    “In deference to the next of kin,” Commander Cummerbund explained with morbid relish, “the full story of the super-cruiser ‘Flatbush’s’ last mission has never been fully revealed. You know, of course, that she was lost during the war against the Mucoids.”

    We all shuddered. Even now, the very name of the gelatinous monsters who had come slurping Earthward from the general direction of the Coal Sack aroused vomitive memories.

    “I knew her skipper well — Captain Karl van Rinderpest, hero of the final assault on the unspeakable, but not unshriekable, !!Yeetch.”

    He paused politely to let us unplug our ears and mop up our spilled drinks.

    “‘Flatbush’ had just launched a salvo of probability inverters against the Mucoid home planet and was heading back toward deep space in formation with three destroyers — the Russian ‘Lieutenant Kizhe’, the Israeli ‘Chutzpah’, and her Majesty’s ‘Insufferable’. They were still accelerating when a fantastically unlikely accident occurred. ‘Flatbush’ ran straight into the gravity well of a neutron star.”

    When our expressions of horror and incredulity had subsided, he continued gravely.

    “Yes — a sphere of ultimately condensed matter, only ten miles across, yet as massive as a sun — and hence with a surface gravity one hundred billion times that of Earth.

    “The other ships were lucky. They only skirted the outer fringe of the field and managed to escape, though their orbits were deflected almost a hundred and eighty degrees. But ‘Flatbush’, we calculated later, must have passed within a few dozen miles of that unthinkable concentration of mass and so experienced the full violence of its tidal forces.

    “Now in any reasonable gravitational field — even that of a White Dwarf, which may run up to a million Earth g’s — you just swing around the center of attraction and head on out into space again, without feeling a thing. At the closest point you could be accelerating at hundreds or thousands of g’s — but you’re still in free fall, so there are no physical effects. Sorry if I’m laboring the obvious, but I realize that everyone here isn’t technically orientated.”

    If this was intended as a crack at Fleet Paymaster General “Sticky Fingers” Geldclutch, he never noticed, being well into his fifth beaker of Martian Joy Juice.

    “For a neutron star, however, this is no longer true. Near the center of mass the gravitational gradient — that is, the rate at which the field changes with distance — is so enormous that even across the width of a small body like a spaceship there can be a difference of a hundred thousand g’s. I need hardly tell you what that sort of field can do to any material object.

    “‘Flatbush’ must have been torn to pieces almost instantly, and the pieces themselves must have flowed like liquid during the few seconds they took to swing around the star. Then the fragments headed on out into space again.

    “Months later a radar sweep by the Salvage Corps located some of the debris. I’ve seen it — surrealistically shaped lumps of the toughest metals we possess twisted together like taffy. And there was only one item that could even be recognized — it must have come from some unfortunate engineer’s tool kit.”

    The Commander1s voice dropped almost to inaudibility, and he dashed away a manly tear.

    “I really hate to say this.” He sighed. “But the only identifiable fragment of the pride of the United States Space Navy was . . . one star-mangled spanner.”

  43. jeh says

    First Asimov, and now Clarke. Sigh.

    I still remember reading his Profiles of the Future in 8th grade, as well as every short story he wrote that I could find. I just re-read the “9 Billion Names of God.” Always loved his simple, direct writing style. Things kind of went downhill from 2001: A Space Odyssey but I faithfully read all the remaining sequels. The first Rama book was very memorable.

    I’m surprised that Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End, Asimov’s Foundation, Niven’s Ringworld, have never been been made into movies (Peter Jackson, are you listening?).

    And after all these years I still remember him co-anchoring the Apollo 11 moon landing with Cronkite back in July 1969.

  44. Steven Sullivan says

    Childhood’s End, lawd a’mighty, I remember devouring that one in one time-suspended afternoon when I was 13 or so. Afterwards I was in a daze for hours, so strong was its impact. I wanted so badly for it to be real.

  45. melior says

    I’m surprised that Rendezvous with Rama and Childhood’s End, Asimov’s Foundation, Niven’s Ringworld, have never been been made into movies (Peter Jackson, are you listening?)

    So true. There’re plenty more of PK Dick’s novels still crying to be filmed, Zelazny’s Amber series, Niven/Pournelle’s The Mote in God’s Eye, Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or Glory Road, lots of great movie-worthy stuff by Joe Haldeman, Iain Banks, Nancy Kress, GA Effinger…

    Ah well, I hear there are plans in the works to make films based on some of the Milton Bradley games like Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders instead.

  46. Andre Tardoz says

    Cheers, Arthur, for the many fantabulous ideas, and we’ll just have to forgive you for the somewhat less than human characters by which those ideas were expressed.

    And what a sad indictment of our culture that your love of the young men of Sri Lanka has to be oh so carefully elided by the journalistic organs of record on this sad occasion of your passing

  47. MarkW says

    The news has brought a tear to my eye. I’ll miss him. David Wilford at #29 says it for me.

  48. Ted D says

    I don’t know if it’s good or bad news, but there is a Rendezvous with Rama movie in the works, produced by Morgan Freeman. Although a couple of quotes from him seem fairly promising, at least as far as his intentions:
    “These things, they always want to make it into an action film, You can’t do it with this. And we’ve been having trouble getting someone to see the science aspect of this, the exploratory aspects of it, rather than the blood and guts and stuff.”
    “It’s a very intellectual science fiction film, a very difficult book to translate cinematically. [At least] we have found it very difficult to translate, to get ready for film.”

  49. Jit says

    A Fall of Moondust; Rendezvous with Rama; The City and the Stars; Fountains of Paradise; 2001. These alone would set him among the brightest stars of the firmament, but when you add Childhood’s End, he eclipses the rest.

    Anyone who hasn’t read Childhood’s End, it’ll knock your socks off. Probably.

    And The Star – well, talk about shifting a parochial perspective! Are humans the most important thing in the universe? Maybe not.

    Not that I bothered with the recent stuff. After the sequel to Rama… anything with a co-author I left well alone, I’m afraid.

    But the guy was a skeptic, and one of the reasons I’m a skeptic. So thanks for that and the brilliant books, ACC.

  50. paulh says

    “… and outside, the stars were slowly going out.”

    (or whatever the correct quote is, it’s been a while.)

  51. Rupert Goodwins says

    I don’t think there’s any doubt that if ACC was still in his prime right now, he’d be out there batting away for the good guys.

    “The rash assertion that ‘God made man in His own image’ is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths, and as the hierarchy of the universe is disclosed to us, we may have to recognize this chilling truth: if there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they cannot be very important gods.”

    “There is the possibility that humankind can outgrown its infantile tendencies, as I suggested in Childhood’s End. But it is amazing how childishly gullible humans are. There are, for example, so many different religions — each of them claiming to have the truth, each saying that their truths are clearly superior to the truths of others — how can someone possibly take any of them seriously? I mean, that’s insane. …Though I sometimes call myself a crypto-Buddhist, Buddhism is not a religion. Of those around at the moment, Islam is the only one that has any appeal to me. But, of course, Islam has been tainted by other influences. The Muslims are behaving like Christians, I’m afraid.”

    “The greatest tragedy in mankind’s entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.”


  52. Sergeant Zim says

    Paulh, the correct quote is:

    “Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.”

    One star has gone out for the world, and he will be missed.

  53. Faithful Reader says

    “The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” rank very high in my personal journey toward atheism, as they undoubtedly do for many, many others. Goodbye, Sir Arthur.

  54. synthesist says

    Sad :o( one of the many influences on my choice of career (electronics engineer). Loved 2001, City and the Stars, and his other early stuff, not too keen on his later “collaborations”. I never met him but my sister did ! – many years ago she worked for his agent in London, and got a copy of Rendezvous with Rama signed by him for me !

  55. Ray S. says

    I didn’t read SF for the characters, I read it for the ideas. In this regard, Clarke, along with Asimov, Heinlein and many others expanded my horizons much like a Hubble telescope. I don’t really care if literature majors don’t consider these works literature. To some of us, these works are much more valuable than all the personal character stories they admire.

    One recent work, ‘The Light of Other Days’, co-authored with Stephen Baxter, was one I found quite readable. It concerns a technology that, at its start, allows one to peer into the past. Once the technology is developed and enhanced, those who possess it can also use it to view the present, but remotely. Clarke and Baxter work out the possible implications to privacy and society of such technology.

    Rather than muse over whether his last work was as good as his first or his tenth, I’d rather look at the whole body of work. It’s then that I wonder who among the living can compare.

  56. says

    I always liked “Fountains of Paradise” best. I agree with PZ that his more recent stuff was pretty bad, but he was a great influence, and will be missed.

  57. JimV says

    I could feel my mind expanding as I first read The City and the Stars. In my dotage, my tastes have changed to prefer better characters, and even Heinlein has paled a bit, but I’ll never forget the impact ACC had on me. (Vernor Vinge comes closest to ressurecting that feeling.)

  58. says

    Sergeant Zim (#62) and the line before that one.

    “…George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.)”

    “The Nine Billion Names of God” for me, “Encounter at Dawn” for LotStreetWiz.

  59. Kseniya says

    One nit-pick: I hardly see how “The Nine Billion Names of God” in any way supports an atheistic worldview. :-p

    Re: “The Light of Other Days” (2000). I haven’t read this, but from Ray’s description, it sounds like this book builds on the work of two great time-viewing stories written quite some time ago: Asimov’s “The Dead Past” (1956) and “‘E’ for Effort” (1947) by T.L. Sherred – particularly the former.

    While the two stories are quite different from each other, they each touch (in differing degrees) on the privacy issues which stem from the fact that the past trails behind us constantly, like a shadow that begins precisely where the present leaves off.

    Otherwise, “‘E’ for Effort” is a much more substantial read (it is a novella, not a short story). The capabilities of its time-viewing technology is quite different, as is the scope of the tale itself. It’s a great story, but seems to be unknown outside the ranks of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame fans such as myself. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that it’s one of my favorite S/F stories of all time.

  60. Kseniya says

    Re. “The Star”: I know how unsettling that is for sensitive readers, but surely the Christian rationalization for the story’s events could only be one with which we are already so painfully familiar: “See? The universe really is all about us!”

  61. greg says

    Damn, I just started reading the Rama series, and I have to read in in section slowly because I dont want the first book to end. I am glad I get to continue his legacy (sort of?)though. And common PZ, could not you say anything nice, geez? Great man, great author, if I ever have kids I will for sure give them a copy of his books.

  62. Epikt says


    One nit-pick: I hardly see how “The Nine Billion Names of God” in any way supports an atheistic worldview. :-p

    Agreed. The premise–that the purpose of humanity is to list all possible names of god, after which everything stops–is about as theisty as you can get. A fun story, nevertheless.

    One of my other favorites was “A Walk in the Dark,” which I read at age seven or eight. For a couple weeks after, I tried every trick I knew to avoid being sent to bed, because I was absolutely certain that one night, as I cowered under the covers, I was going to hear the faint clicking of gigantic claws.

  63. says

    I remember the original 2001 movie well. The girl I took to see it (in 1969) with me was not nearly as enthralled by it as I was, and she got mad at me for paying more attention to the movie than to her.

    Some of his predictions were klunkers, but many were way too conservative. Others are likely to come to pass, albeit later than he projected. The last book of his that I read was “How the World was One”. After the dust settles, I will be going back to see if there are any that I missed.

  64. says

    He was more than the “C” in the ABC of Science Fiction: Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. He was, as stipulated between himself and Isaac Asimov, the greatest science fiction writer on Earth.

    I have a number of personal anecdotes about Sir Arthur C. Clarke, from meetings that we’d had in New York (starting with events surrounding the film premier of 2001, and my viewing his manuscript of the novel, with his calculations in the margins) and California (including at Caltech, where he admitted that I was correct in an ongoing argument we’d had about the feasibility of interstellar flight), but this is not the time nor place for them.

    Suffice it to say that he was one of people who shaped and encouraged both my literary and scientific careers, and with whom I was honored to be professionally associated. He was willing to go out on a limb and recommend me thus in writing to be on the Board of Directors of the National Space Society. “I’m impressed by your range of activities, and am sure you will be a valuable asset to the National Space Society.” He was generous with his time and prodigious imagination.

    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. When the publisher botched the first edition, including my poem coauthored with Ray Bradbury, and photo captions, he and his super-agent Russ Galen were willing to boycott the publisher unless the agreed to a corrected edition (which for unrelated reasons never appeared).

    I wrote the preface to a published collection of the fascinating
    snail-mail correspondence between Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, Baron Dunsany. Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany, A Correspondence 1945-56, ed. Keith Allen Daniels, Palo Alto: Anamnesis Press, 1 July 1998, 84 pp., ISBN-10: 0963120301, ISBN-13: 978-0963120304.

    I sent him a draft of a paper that I was writing on missions to Mercury, and how ice at the poles could be a source of hydrogen and oxygen for a return to Earth, and he agreed that this would make Mercury important to exploration of the inner planets, which I was able to cite as “personal correspondence” in the paper. He was always able to draw rational yet startling conclusions from scientific data.
    “Human and Robotic Precursor Missions to the Polar Icecaps of Mercury”, Proceedings of The High Frontier Conference XI:
    Bringing the Vision of Space into Reality, 11th in a series formally known as the Space Manufacturing Conference, Space Studies Institute, Princeton, NJ, June 1993.

    Sir Arthur C. Clarke cannot be replaced. He helped to create the age in which we live.

  65. Greg Esres says

    I think his later books were awful and the flaws of his earlier ones were colored over by my own youth

    Never cared for his books, either. I found them a bit depressing.

  66. Greg Esres says

    I think his later books were awful and the flaws of his earlier ones were colored over by my own youth

    Never cared for his books, either. I found them a bit depressing.

  67. mothra says

    One somehow never looks to Clarke, Heinlein or Asimov for characters, but, as already mentioned for ideas. Robert Silverberg and Vernor Vinge seem to me to have attained that happy medium of ‘real’ charcters operating in a technologically complex future, although the short stories of Jack Vance also rank high in this regard.

    Sir Arthur C. Clarke is still relevant. In the Jan-Mar. issue of Answers in Genesis, there is an article decrying the evils of science fiction because it is a source of dangerous ideas- and the prime example they cite is ACC’s ‘The Star.’ Incidentally, there probably should be litigation for the illustrations accompanying this article- a ‘composite’ spaceship pieced together from pictures in a Star Trek technical manual and Star Wars picture book.

  68. Kseniya says

    A fun story, nevertheless.

    Yes, of course! I was reacting to an earlier comment:

    The Star” and “The Nine Billion Names of God” rank very high in my personal journey toward atheism,

    However, now that I think about it, though the story itself is as “theisty as you can get,” I do see how it can promote an atheistic view: The story suggests how absurd such a reality would be. The entire universe and everything in it, created solely for the purpose of having a bunch of apes squatting on a pale blue dot figure out all its creator’s names? Riiiighhhht!

    One of my other favorites was “A Walk in the Dark,” which I read at age seven or eight.

    LOL… yeah I know that one, too. My parents have a lot of old paperbacks on their bookshelf, some going back to their own childhood and adolescence, and I read most of them by the time I turned 14. Three of them were short story collections by Clarke. Reach for Tomorrow, The Sentinel, and… heck, I forget the other title.

    Did I say two or three? Sorry – I meant four. The other was Tales from the White Hart, which has been alluded to here, but not named. I loved how Clarke so gleefully turned his own genre on its head. It’s also worth mentioning that Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s stories owe a huge debt to the tradition of The White Hart.

    As for offering honest criticisms of Clarke’s work in a thread about his life, his work, his influence, and his passing… well, nobody’s taken any gratuitous or excessively nasty shots at the old boy. I think it’s ok. Maybe Sir Arthur does – sorry, would – too. I dunno. :-)

  69. Andrew says

    Interrobang (#34) —

    Two more inventions from science fiction (both from Robert A. Heinlein) — the waterbed and the service waldo. In fact, waldoes are so called because of Heinlein’s story “Waldo.”

  70. Kseniya says

    the Jan-Mar. issue of Answers in Genesis, there is an article decrying the evils of science fiction because it is a source of dangerous ideas- and the prime example they cite is ACC’s ‘The Star.’

    Wow. I love how they so readily and willing expose their motives and priorities. “Dangerous ideas.” Oh, yes. These heresies and blasphemies must be suppressed! (Oh, and burn the witches while you’re at it. That’s a good fellow.)

    If anything presents a danger to our society, it’s not S/F – it’s the likes of AIG.

  71. Bill Dauphin says

    Jeez, I’m just amazed at how many people are taking the time to sign on and pop off with comments about how much they didn’t like the man’s work.

    Speaking as one of those who had a negative thing or two to say in my tribute, I think you’re missing the larger picture we’re trying to get at. In purely literary terms, Sir Arthur was not the equal of his contemporaries in SF (Heinlein and Asimov to be sure, but also, for instance, Theodore Sturgeon, James Blish, A.E. Van Vogt, etc.), nor of the generation of literary SF writers that followed. As a former high-school English teacher, I once taught Childhood’s End, but it was one of only a small handful of his works that I could have justified teaching as literature.

    That he became such a beloved figure (beloved by me, despite these comments) even so is a tribute to his broad greatness as a human being and a man of ideas. In fact, one of the things that I and others have criticized about his writing — that it was so crammed full of ideas that sometimes story and character got pushed aside — is part and parcel of his greatness.

    True appreciation does not require facile compliments.

  72. Jit says

    Greg Esres #76

    Never cared for his books, either. I found them a bit depressing.

    His babies are awe-inspiring, nothing less – especially because of the sense of possibility they hold.

    Bill #82

    When the literature is long forgotten, the story remains…

  73. Bill Dauphin says

    One somehow never looks to … Heinlein … for characters

    Jubal Harshaw. Michael Valentine Smith. Lazarus Long. Juan Rico. Manuel Garcia O’Kelly. Bernardo de la Paz. Wyoh Knott. Mycroft Holmes. Podkayne. Baslim the Cripple. Thor “Thorby” Rudbek. Hazel Stone. Maureen Smith. Friday. “Kettle Belly” Baldwin. Lawrence “Lorenzo Smythe” Smith. Andrew Jackson Libby. Mary Sperling. The Mother Thing.

    ‘Nuff said.

    The other was Tales from the White Hart, which has been alluded to here, but not named. I loved how Clarke so gleefully turned his own genre on its head. It’s also worth mentioning that Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s stories owe a huge debt to the tradition of The White Hart.

    Not just Spider’s luminous tales of Callahan’s Place (and its successor joints), but a whole subgenre of SF bar stories, including Larry Niven’s Draco’s Tavern tales (the original stories of Draco’s Tavern are, IMHO, much better than the newer tales written for the collection of the same name).

    Unlike Spider Robinson, though, I don’t think Sir Arthur ever wrote about an SF (fantasy, really) brothel. Too bad, eh?

  74. says

    #34 Interrobang
    #79 Andrew:

    In The City and the Stars in 1956, Clarke had the characters playing what we would nowadays call a multi-player virtual reality role-playing game.

    I don’t know if he was the first with this. Laurence Edward Manning had something like it in 1933, The Man Who Awoke: III: The City of Sleep.

  75. Pierce R. Butler says

    zeekster @ 81: that link doesn’t work.

    The BBC obit mentions that Clarke’s last novel, “The Last Theorem, co-written with Frederik Pohl, will be published later this year.”

    An earlier version of this same story had a passing allusion to his “unusual lifestyle” (or words to that effect), without giving details.

    Also worth quoting from the same source:

    Far-seeing scientist
    “Sir Arthur has left written instructions that his funeral be strictly secular,” his secretary, Nalaka Gunawardene, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
    She said the author had requested “absolutely no religious rites of any kind”.

  76. Scrofulum says

    Sad loss to the world of si-fi. Sir Arfur’s works were a steady stream of enjoyment for me throughout my life and,although I never considered the actual writing to be the best in the genre, the ideas were so good that it made most of them real page turners. He really got the old imagination turning.

    RIP sir.

  77. says

    I’m actually going to post this in a few places, so forgive me if you see this more than once.

    I think, rather than talk about the impact that Clarke had on the world or myself, which is substantial, I’ll let Clarke speak for himself. Here’s a link to a video that Clarke released just weeks ago on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Enjoy.

  78. says

    From Wikipedia on the White Hart stories:

    “the story “Silence Please” additionally shows that he also invented the idea of using real-time wave cancellation to quiet noisy environments.”

  79. says

    Jeez, I’m just amazed at how many people are taking the time to sign on and pop off with comments about how much they didn’t like the man’s work.

    I can’t think of a better tribute to a writer than people refraining from tedious saccharine bullshit and discussing his/her writing, the effect it had on them, and what they thought of it.

    Everyone commenting here so far has read his work and formed an opinion of it. That’s an incredible testament. Something for a writer to aspire to.

  80. says

    come to think of it, my brother put it better in a thread here about Steve Irwin’s death:

    This is a sad day for his family and his friends. It’s appropriate for people who admired his work to feel compassion for his family, and to think to themselves “that’s a shame, how sad.”

    But if people who had no connection to someone whatsoever are to be proscribed from discussing their impressions of that person’s work with others who also had no connection whatsoever to that person, well that’s a bit much. That’s claiming a familiarity that you haven’t earned.

    Feeling compassion for his family is appropriate. Feeling that a discussion of his work among complete strangers to his family is inappropriate is celebrity worship.

    I don’t go in for celebrity worship. Seems presumptuous to me, self-centered. His family suffered the loss. His friends suffered the loss. Don’t claim their grief as your own, it’s not your right. Sympathy for the family is one thing, but if a complete stranger is so bereaved as to not be able to handle my simply giving my impression of his TV show, then that complete stranger is claiming a familiarity they don’t deserve. Your upset is not about him or his family, its 100% about you.

  81. Hairy Doctor Professor says

    #93: Everyone commenting here so far has read his work and formed an opinion of it. That’s an incredible testament. Something for a writer to aspire to.

    Yeah, Chris has the sense of it. Nobody likes everything that any author creates, but essentially all of the commenters have found something to take away from Clarke’s work that is meaningful, valuable, and in many cases intensely personal. What a wonderful legacy.

  82. Rey Fox says

    *applauds Chris Clarke’s brother*

    I’m so sick of the grief/tragedy/sympathy industry, as George Carlin put it. The whole “put down everything you’re doing and grive” mentality not only rears its head when a celebrity dies, but every time there’s some monumental news happening that results in the deaths of several people (like, say, a shooting). God forbid anyone discuss any kind of policy that might help with or prevent a similar incident in the future. It’s completely self-serving and self-aggrandizing BS.

    Er…now that I’ve got that off my chest, I read the whole 2001 series several years ago, and I seem to remember liking it. Even 3001.

  83. JJR says

    I once owned an anthology of shorter SF stories called THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION, which I enjoyed reading very much, with many of the contributions coming from Arthur C. Clarke (and Isaac Asimov). Clarke, like Asimov and like Sagan, was also a great spokesperson for secular humanism and a rational, scientific approach to life’s problems. He periodically penned articles for FREE INQUIRY that I always enjoyed.

    He will be missed and fondly remembered.

  84. Bill Dauphin says

    I once owned an anthology of shorter SF stories called THE GOLDEN AGE OF SCIENCE FICTION

    I used to have that, if I’m thinking of the same anthology. It was a two(or three?)-volume paperback set, edited by The Good Doctor himself, and filled with little gems that had been published in the pulps of the 30s, 40s, and 50s and (at least at that time) not widely reprinted. Great stuff.

  85. says

    #98 Bill Dauphin:

    You are probably thinking of the anthology “Before the Golden Age”, edited by Asimov. It came in one volume or three, depending.

  86. mothra says

    Hey Bill D., we seem to disagree on character development. I do not mean to get into a spitting contest- nor take anything away from a group of authors whose works I greatly admire–here it comes- but Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein characters require the reader to ‘add details,’ the first two are often imperfectly realized, the latter produced caricatures rather than characters- no subtlety. Compare a Heinlein personage with say, characters in Lord Valentes’ Castle or Dying inside, ’nuff said.’ Heinlein provided rollicking stories and plots but this is not character development. We can agree to disagree.

    Back in 2003, I wrote an essay looking at themes in Science fiction in the light of 9/11, entitled ‘Loosing Worlds.’ The closing sentence went something like this: Of all the [possible] futures gone or worlds lost, we are left with the image of a protohuman casting a bone skyward. . .and it falls earthward to rest with others in a pile. In our real 2001 there is no dream of an odyssey.

    Sir Arthur Clarke- the world is a better place for your having lived in it.

  87. Kseniya says

    I agree that Heinlein created many, many memorable characters, but I must agree – nuanced characterizations was not his forte.

    Speaking of which, I remember reading a piece in a Spider Robinson book in defense of Heinlein, it was an essay titled “Rah for RAH!” or something, in which Spider took on the charge that Heinlein’s female characterizations were sexist. (Robinson argued that they were not.) I was pretty young when I read this essay, and don’t remember it well, but IMO Heinlein’s characterizations of women may have lacked nuance, but they were usually pretty strong and capable individuals and I certainly never felt offended by how he portrayed his female characters, even in the older stories where the characterizations seemed a bit dated.

    Even so, I still chuckle over “The Menace From Earth.” :-)

  88. Kseniya says

    You may have interpreted it as an allegory, but I daresay you’d be hard-pressed to prove Clarke’s intention on that one, given his dim view of religion.

    Regardless – I don’t think the two tales are very similar. You see what you want to see, I guess.

  89. mothra says

    Exodus in Childhood’s End???? With very little reaching (other than back to early grade school) I could read Andre Norton’s ‘The Last Planet’ as an Exodus allegory. Any Campbellian heroes journey saga can be read as an Exodus allegory. Of course, this requires one to BELIEVE in fairy tales as opposed to merely knowing about them.

    I think I will celebrate Easter by re-reading the collected short stories of ACC- and of course watch the traditional movie- Life of Brian.

  90. Kevin says

    “Kevin, Foundation was Asimov, not Clarke. Posted by: defectiverobot | March 18, 2008 9:18 PM

    aw heck… who’s going to listen to a defective robot?

    well..they are both dead right…?

  91. Bill Dauphin says


    I agree with you that Heinlein’s characters are not subtle, and with Kseniya that…

    nuanced characterizations was not his forte.

    But I disagree that Heinlein’s characters are caricatures. To be sure, they are not nearly as minutely examined as characters are in the best mainstream literature (or even in the more literary SF of the generation that came after RAH, ACC, and The Good Doctor)… but that wasn’t the comparison I was making. The assertion I was replying to lumped Heinlein, Clarke, and Asimov together as writers one does look to for characters.

    Each of the names in my list of Heinlein characters is a person I can call up clearly in my memory, distinct in thought, action, and diction… even the ones who live in works I haven’t (re)read for a decade or more. Other than Karellen (from Childhood’s End), the only characters from Clarke’s ouevre who are as memorable and distinct are Heywood Floyd, Dave Bowman, and HAL… and given the way 2001 came into being, I suspect Stanley Kubrick had as much to do with those characterizations as Clarke did. I confess I haven’t read as much of Asimov as the other two, so I won’t venture an opinion on him… but my sense (from listening to others, and from what I have read) is that his work was more driven by story than character. IMHO Heinlein created both better developed characters and more character-driven stories than the other two.

    But that last phrase is key: I’m comparing his characters to Clarke’s, not to Faulkner’s!

    As for being caricatures… well, Heinlein’s characters are certainly exaggerated, but I think they’re exaggerated in a different way than caricatures: I think they’re expanded by exaggeration, in the same way figures in superhero comic book art are, rather than being reduced to a few exaggerated characteristics, in the way that classic caricatures are. Spider Robinson does the same thing: Everyone is incredibly brilliant or incredibly powerful or incredibly empathetic or incredibly beautiful… it can give you a real inferiority complex reading his work! But those people, outsized and unrealistic as they are, always remain people; they’re not reduced to a pair of funny ears or a pointy nose, the way a streetcorner caricaturist would draw them.

    Kseniya, the Spider Robinson essay you’re thinking of was “Rah, Rah, RAH!” It appeared (IIRC) in both the Heinlein tribute issue of Destinies (a paperback “bookazine” edited by Jim Baen) and in Heinlein’s Expanded Universe, which was a greatly expanded version of his early collection of essays and stories, The Worlds of Robert A. Heinlein. As you no doubt know, Robinson is one of Heinlein’s biggest cheerleaders. He added a preface to the posthumously published For Us, the Living (now there’s a book with no characterization, but to be fair, it was Heinlein’s first attempt at a novel), and he wrote the novel Variable Star based on an outline found in Heinlein’s papers.

    IMO Heinlein’s characterizations of women may have lacked nuance, but they were usually pretty strong and capable individuals and I certainly never felt offended by how he portrayed his female characters, even in the older stories where the characterizations seemed a bit dated.

    Yah, it’s always been a point of discussion among Heinlein fans and critics whether his women are sexist stereotypes or feminist icons… because the sometimes seem to be both. I suspect it’s because, by all accounts, his late wife (actually, recently deceased widow) Virginia (aka Ginny) was simultaneously happy to embody some very traditional female roles, yet also brilliant and talented and capable of fierce independence of mind and spirit.

    I thought about including the heroine of “The Menace from Earth” (remember that the title actually refers to her romantic rival, a blonde space tourist up from Earth) on my list, but though I can remember her vividly, I couldn’t remember her name.

    BTW, Mothra, I don’t think of this as a spitting contest at all. I could happily — and entirely without rancor — debate this kind of stuff forever. But it does occur to me that the rest of Pharyngulaland might be getting a skosh tired of Lit 201: Theory of Characterization in Golden Age SF… so I’ll put the chalk down now! ;^)

  92. Pierce R. Butler says

    Alas, the Heinlein character most relevant for our times is one who never appeared directly in any story, but only by reference: Nehemiah Scudder.

  93. Bill Dauphin says

    Alas, the Heinlein character most relevant for our times is … Nehemiah Scudder.

    Ain’t it the truth! [shudder]

  94. Bill Dauphin says

    One last Heinlein note:

    Here is a link to Spider Robinson’s essay, about which a couple small corrections to my previous comment: The proper title is “Rah, Rah, R.A.H.!” I was right about it appearing in Destinies, but it did not appear in Expanded Universe (it was actually about Expanded Universe) and it did appear in one of Spider’s own collections (Time Travelers Strictly Cash)… and a couple other places as well. It’s based on a Guest of Honor speech Spider gave at a convention.

    The essay may seem a bit dated (it was written in 1980), and it certainly has a rah-rah character to it (hence the title), but it’s worth reading if you care at all about Heinlein and the various criticisms/accusations that swirl around his work.


  95. Kseniya says

    Ah yes, the prophet. I have invoked Scudder right here on Pharyngula at least three times over the past year, for reasons we all understand. *shudder*

    I agree that “charicature” may be the wrong word, and I never would have used it myself. Thanks for the link to the Robinson essay, I’ll have to read it again now that I’m all grown up *cough*.

  96. Kevin says


    I now realize I never really liked any of Clarke’s stuff. and I read hundreds and hundreds of science fiction books..

  97. Pierce R. Butler says

    Kevin –

    Somehow I suspect you may be out of synch with practically all of Clarke’s generational cohort of sf writers.

    Fair enough: most of their work hasn’t aged well at all. But Clarke was inarguably a giant among his peers, and he earned his stature fair and square.

  98. Roscoe says

    ‘Nother side to Arthur was his great love of diving. My diving club hosted Arthur and Mike Ball when they toured Australia for material for his book ‘Coast of Coral’. We thrilled him by letting the tide take us through oyster-infested pipes in a breakwater-even earning a few lines in the book. Couldn`t get Arthur (or Mike) to give it a try. Oddly, every time I tried to talk Sci-fi (I was a keen Authenic Science Fiction mag fan at the time), Arthur turned it back to talking about the sea and diving. Hope you find clear water and an interesting reef where you go, mate.

  99. Arnosium Upinarum says

    We’ve all passed irrecoverably, with Arthur, into childood’s end.

    One of the very finest men of ideas who have ever graced our planet.

  100. Arnosium Upinarum says

    PZ – i apologize for this tardy comment, but Arthur’s “later works” weren’t authored personally by him, but by other “writers”, at least one of which was terrible by comparison.

  101. the day the earth stood still says

    Wht’s hppnd? I hv t kp Rfrshng th pg t vn b bl t vw th pst cn smn fx ths ss pls?