Arthur C. Clarke, RIP

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The novelist Arthur C. Clarke has died at age 90. It's been a couple decades since I last read any of his books, but I enjoyed several of them in my teens, especially 2001 and the wonderfully ambiguous Childhood's End.

And then there was his larger cultural influence, which stretched all the way from here…

…to here:

Rest in peace.

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  1. Thank you Reason for proving me wrong. I told a couple of people yesterday that the media would only mention 2001 and possibly the Rama series, and won’t be arsed with my favorite Clarke book, Childhood’s End. I’m glad someone did remember…

  2. Childhood’s End is my favorite, too.

    RIP. If there’s an afterlife, he’s currently mocking Asimov.

  3. I enjoyed all of Mr. Clark’s fiction. Read every novel and short story he had written up to 1978. Oops, I did com back later and read the rest of the Space Oddessy series.

    He was my favorite science fiction writer. When it came to easy-to-read science, Azimov was my guy with second place going to Clarke.

  4. “Larger cultural influence” including making Richard Strauss into a hit composer, as demonstrated in your YouTube clip (and lots of other places).

  5. My two favorites are (1) The City and the Stars (possibly my favorite sci-fi book ever) and (2) Imperial Earth. Somehow I never got around to reading Rendezvous with Rama or Childhood’s End.

  6. Rhywun,

    I highly recommend Childhood’s End.

  7. I think these cultural influences show more influence from Kubrick than from Clarke.

    Clarke’s proposal for geosynchronous satellites is his true great cultural influence: laughed at when he first advanced it but now an essential part of modern life. Such satellites are now said to be in “Clarke orbit”.

    Everthing I’ve ever read by Clarke has been worth reading, with Childhood’s End at the summit. His recent collaborations with Stephen Baxter were fascinating.

    Having said that, I know I won’t miss him as much as I still miss Isaac Asimov.

  8. When it came to easy-to-read science, Azimov was my guy

    Agreed – I read soooo many of those books when I was a kid. I don’t recall Clark doing popular science books, though.

  9. I devoured every Asimov and Clarke book I could get my hands on from junior high through high school. Throw in Heinlein, and you had the short list of the best science fiction writers working through my formative years.

    I read Childhood’s End about 5 times from age 11 through 25. It still haunts me 25 years later.

  10. There seems to be a lot of love for Childhood’s End actually. I loved almost everything I read that he wrote. I’ve reread 2010 most, but I’ll also mention Songs of Distant Earth.

  11. The Clarke-Asimov Treaty-sometimes called the Asimov-Clarke Treaty or the Asimov-Clarke Treaty of Park Avenue-stated that each author would refer to the other as the world’s greatest writer in his specialty-and refer to himself as merely second-best. Under these terms, Asimov would crown Clarke as the best science-fiction scribe ever, while Clarke would anoint Asimov as the greatest science writer. Of course, both could publicly crown himself a close second to the other.

  12. So what was the story with the NAMBLA accusations? Any truth to the rumors of why he moved to India?

  13. Loved Asimov as a kid, still do. I remember reading about the Asimov-Clarke Treaty 🙂

  14. I’m on-again/off-again with science fiction, but I must have read Childhood’s End half a dozen times when I was in junior high/high school. Ditto for Rendezvous with Rama. Formative years indeed.

  15. I’m on-again/off-again with science fiction, . . .

    It’s become nearly impossible to find a true science fiction novel these days. They’re all serials involving swords and dragons and other fantasy bullshit (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  16. The whole Rama series is very good. My science fiction reading is woefully lacking. But I have read very few more entertaining books than the Rama series.

  17. Rita, there’s no evidence Clarke was a pederast. He was quoted by Locus (www.locusmag.com) at the time of the accusations that he hadn’t had sex with anyone for several decades. (Separately, when asked if he was gay, his reply was “No, merely happy”). I suspect he was one of those closeted, highly functional gays of early 20th century Britain.

  18. I can’t remember the last time I read any Clarke, but I have good memories of reading his work. I’ll probably re-read Rama one of these days, but most of my books are in boxes, not having any bookshelves (or wall space for that matter) in which to house them.

    Another vote for Childhood’s End.

  19. It’s become nearly impossible to find a true science fiction novel these days. They’re all serials involving swords and dragons and other fantasy bullshit (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Stephen Baxter is good, if baffling at times. I love everything by Robert Sawyer, even if he is a damn libural Canadian. Sawyer also runs a huge sci-fi website with lots of info on various writers (not just himself). Pick anything off the recent Hugo or Nebula lists; it’s bound to be good.

    But yeah, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy shelves do seem to be overwhelmed with fantasy lately.

  20. I like the Hyperion series.

  21. I think I still have my original paperback copy of Childhood’s End, purchased during elementary school via the Scholastic Book Club. It still ranks as one of the best Science Fiction novels I have ever read.

    Was the “amor” clip from Plaza Sesamo? I recall that Sesame Street and its global franchise shows made more than a few references to the 2001 monolith and used Strauss or Strauss-like fanfares for that awe-inspiring effect.

  22. My one tenuous brush with literary greatness was occasionally walking past his house in Colombo on my way somewhere else…

    I always loved his short stories the best; Superiority and The Star are tops on my personal list.

  23. I like a lot of Robert Charles Wilson’s work.

    I think Clarke’s at his best when he’s a little mystical, like in “Childhood’s End” and the first part of “The Fountains of Paradise.” If I remember, “The City and the Stars” fits in there as well.

  24. I always loved his short stories the best; Superiority and The Star

    Two things that profoundly affected me as a youth were Childhood’s End and The Star.

  25. Childhood’s End provided my yearbook quote (NERRRRD!). A thoughtful man who created beautiful art. RIP

  26. From the introduction to the novel version of 2001:

    “Remember, this is only a work of fiction. The truth, as always, will be far stranger.”

    R.I.P. Sir Arthur…

  27. All comfort to his family and friends.

    I dug his non-fiction too. His prolificacy made him a gazillionaire. He lived on an Island that he owned.

    I read most of Childhood’s End non-stop while I was tripping on acid. (This was like 30 years ago)

  28. I like the Hyperion series.

    Me too. Now, I didn’t understand what the hell was going on half the time…

  29. It’s become nearly impossible to find a true science fiction novel these days. They’re all serials involving swords and dragons and other fantasy bullshit (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Jack McDevitt has written some pretty good stuff, and it reminded me of Clarke when I read it. Joe Haldeman is good too.

  30. It’s become nearly impossible to find a true science fiction novel these days. They’re all serials involving swords and dragons and other fantasy bullshit (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Vernon Vinge is good hard sci fi, and Brin’s Kiln People is a biotech version of Snowcrash

  31. It’s become nearly impossible to find a true science fiction novel these days. They’re all serials involving swords and dragons and other fantasy bullshit (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    John Scalzi has a few books out of the Ghost Brigades series that are very good and fast reads. Peter Hamilton’s 2-parter, Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained were very entertaining (and loooong).

  32. Are all of you so frightened of the real world, that you’d follow the devil to another?
    This place looks like a successful experiment in mind-control!

    Look, the man lived 90 freakin’ years, ok?
    Yes, he was very intelligent, and a good fiction writer.

    But, when you can so softly dismiss Rita’s pertinent question about the man’s personal life, and true character — you’re all better fantasy writers than Clarke ever was!

    I don’t mourn the man’s death. I mourn the lives he’s ruined.
    And, all of the great writings throughout history…can never excuse the theft of even one child’s innocence.

    You praise a man you did not really know,
    then, call it “reason.”
    And, you think that Clarke was lame?

    To Rita — continue to seek truth.
    Just know you’ll likely never find it here, among the wee people.

    In fact, unless the present powers-that-be decide to venture out from beneath their toadstools, and into the sunlight — I doubt they’ll even print this.

  33. Flannelbird, you, sirrah, are being a total dipsh*t.

    Anyone who followed the story at the time discovered that the pederasty accusation was made up by a barking clown of a reporter who wanted to create a story for the local scandal sheet. Who later on apologized, was fired, and had to pay a certain amount in damages.

    Don’t be so quick to jump to believe stuff you hear on the internet. Or do you believe that the Moon landings were faked, too?

  34. Grumpy — who, btw, was that clown reporter?
    Did you happen to catch his name?

    As for the moon landings…I’m a rather trusting individual.
    An honest man once told me that he went. And, that’s good enough for me.

    Now…who was that reporter, again?

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