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Arthur C. Clarke Passes Away at 90

Legendary Sci-fi author passes away.

By Jarrod Sarafin     March 19, 2008
Source: Associated Press Release

Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka in 2002.
© Reuters
Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who co-wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s, died at 1:30 a.m. in his adopted home of Sri Lanka after suffering breathing problems, aide Rohan De Silva said.

Co-author with Stanley Kubrick of Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey," Clarke was regarded as far more than a science fiction writer.

He was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.

He joined American broadcaster Walter Cronkite as commentator on the U.S. Apollo moonshots in the late 1960s.

Clarke's non-fiction volumes on space travel and his explorations of the Great Barrier Reef and Indian Ocean earned him respect in the world of science, and in 1976 he became an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

But it was his writing that shot him to his greatest fame and that gave him the greatest fulfillment.

"Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered," Clarke said recently. "I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these I would like to be remembered as a writer."

From 1950, he began a prolific output of both fiction and non-fiction, sometimes publishing three books in a year. He published his best-selling "3001: The Final Odyssey" when he was 79.

Some of his best-known books are "Childhood's End," 1953; "The City and The Stars," 1956, "The Nine Billion Names of God," 1967; "Rendezvous with Rama," 1973; "Imperial Earth," 1975; and "The Songs of Distant Earth," 1986.

When Clarke and Kubrick got together to develop a movie about space, they used as basic ideas several of Clarke's shorter pieces, including "The Sentinel," written in 1948, and "Encounter in the Dawn." As work progressed on the screenplay, Clarke also wrote a novel of the story. He followed it up with "2010," "2061," and "3001: The Final Odyssey."

In 1989, two decades after the Apollo 11 moon landings, Clarke wrote: "2001 was written in an age which now lies beyond one of the great divides in human history; we are sundered from it forever by the moment when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out on to the Sea of Tranquility. Now history and fiction have become inexorably intertwined."

Clarke won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1972, 1974 and 1979; the Hugo Award of the World Science Fiction Convention in 1974 and 1980, and in 1986 became Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was awarded the CBE in 1989.

Born in Minehead, western England, on Dec. 16, 1917, the son of a farmer, Arthur Charles Clark became addicted to science fiction after buying his first copies of the pulp magazine "Amazing Stories" at Woolworth's. He read English writers H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon and began writing for his school magazine in his teens.

Clarke went to work as a clerk in Her Majesty's Exchequer and Audit Department in London, where he joined the British Interplanetary Society and wrote his first short stories and scientific articles on space travel.

It was not until after the World War II that Clarke received a bachelor of science degree in physics and mathematics from King's College in London.

In the wartime Royal Air Force, he was put in charge of a new radar blind-landing system.

But it was an RAF memo he wrote in 1945 about the future of communications that led him to fame. It was about the possibility of using satellites to revolutionize communications -- an idea whose time had decidedly not come.

Clarke later sent it to a publication called Wireless World, which almost rejected it as too far-fetched.

Clarke married in 1953, and was divorced in 1964. He had no children.

He moved to the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka in 1956 after embarking on a study of the Great Barrier Reef.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s and sometimes used a wheelchair, discovered that scuba-diving approximated the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts experience in space. He remained a diving enthusiast, running his own scuba venture into old age.

"I'm perfectly operational underwater," he once said.

Clarke was linked by his computer with friends and fans around the world, spending each morning answering e-mails and browsing the Internet.

At a 90th birthday party thrown for Clarke in December, the author said he had three wishes: for Sri Lanka's raging civil war to end, for the world to embrace cleaner sources of energy and for evidence of extraterrestrial beings to be discovered.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Clarke once said he did not regret having never followed his novels into space, adding that he had arranged to have DNA from strands of his hair sent into orbit.

"One day, some super civilization may encounter this relic from the vanished species and I may exist in another time," he said. "Move over, Stephen King."


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laforcer69@yahoo.com_home 3/18/2008 11:49:06 PM
He was a true master of his art/writing and a visionary genius and it's to bad that his honor was marred with accusations of Pedophilia, although never proven and found innocent, it still plagued his life and had continued to do so until his death...I loved and admired his body of work and I'm grateful to those directors that turned some of his visionary stories into celluloid... RIP Arthur C. Clarke...
Miner49er 3/19/2008 12:06:22 AM
A great author and a great visionary. RIP "My god, it's full of stars!"
klaatu1701 3/19/2008 12:11:17 AM
He was the greatest science fiction writer of them all. His ability to move and awe the reader had no equal. Long after this writer is dust Sir Athur Clarke's dreams and imagination will continue to soar. And I wonder indeed when that day comes when men and woman of another generation will look down upon the Earth from a Clarke Tower they will remember the man who wrote of such great things, who envisioned a smarter, gentler humanity, a humanity who will explore the solar system and beyond. What an impact he had upon my life, and how fortunate indeed that I got to tell him, and perhape even more fortunate for me that on occassion he wrote back and thanked me.
wrrlykam 3/19/2008 1:15:19 AM
Clarke, Bester and Niven were my three favourite writers while growing up. I never got the the chance to meet Sir Arthur but I'll misss him. Perhaps we will one day get to see that Rama film with words 'for Arthur' on the opening credits.
rgtchtiger 3/19/2008 5:28:46 AM
I really hope that the good that comes from his passing will be Rendezvous with Rama finally being made into a film. Maybe some studio will get its act into gear and bring back David Fincher to the project since he was dedicated so long to the film. I too would love to see the words "For Arthur" grace the screen at the film's opening, similar to how Star Trek VI was dedicated to Gene Roddenberry.
JarrodSarafin 3/19/2008 5:44:24 AM
Godspeed, Mr. Clarke. You truly were a legendary man of Science Fiction and you made a lasting impact on tools like me. I'll always appreciate your work. Enjoy your journey onward to your new adventure.
SONYMANswallows 3/19/2008 6:11:02 AM
2001 IS NOT ONLY THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM EVER MADE IT IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I realize that is partly due to Kubrick but if not for Clarke it would not have happend, I first saw it when I was 3 and hated the DAWN OF MAN scene now it is still ahead of its time, 2010 is the 2nd best science fiction film of all time and it is under rated unappreciated and unfairly judged. Arthur loved what Peter Hyams did with it and there is alot missing from the book like Japan's mission that needs to be made. 2061 where they land on Haley's comet is incredible as well, I think Ron Howard was working on it at one time and now it must be made, 3001 was also phenomenal, Frank Poole found drifting through space 1,000 years later and religion is found to be faulty and no longer important by man. It needs to be made as well. Him and Roy Scheider in the same year, I hope their trip through THE MONOLITH was incredible. Childhood's End was another Mind bottler. Time to write people.
JarrodSarafin 3/19/2008 6:23:09 AM
I just wrote it over at our forums but I haven't had a change to read Childhood's End yet...I'm gonna pick it up this week, Sony. But damn it if I didn't read Rendezvous so many times as a kid that I wore out the book cover multiple times..I've probably bought that book at least 5 times in the past 10 years. Same for Hitchhikers Guide too..Another deceased but never forgotten writer... 42...2001...42...2001...42...2001
fft5305 3/19/2008 7:26:59 AM
R.I.P., Mr. Clarke.
bigthor 3/19/2008 8:22:28 AM
sad news.
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