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Arthur C Clarke is dead

I heard the very sad news earlier this evening. Arthur is a member of the Trinity: Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein, the greatest of the great Science Fiction writers. The first SF novel I ever read was “Red Sands Of Mars” when I was nine and by age fourteen I had read my way through every SF book in the Coraopolis Public Library and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Arthur may have passed, but he is an immortal, a name which will be honored on far stars long after even after those of the greatest world leaders of our era are lost and forgotten.

20 comments to Arthur C Clarke is dead

  • Bradbury.

    He makes the cut, too, to me.

  • Nick M

    My God, it’s full of stars

    I was musing over Clarke this very morning in bed. I was musing over why he was better than Asimov.

    That was before I heard.

    Very sad news Dale, very sad indeed.

    For me: the holy trinity of Sci-Fi is Day of the Triffids, 2001 A Space Odyessey and Count Zero.

    I have never made my mind up on Philip K Dick. He frequently irritates me because he was raving mad.

    His shorts are good though.

  • For me: the holy trinity of Sci-Fi is Day of the Triffids, 2001 A Space Odyessey and Count Zero.

    I adore Count Zero – a fine, fine book.

    There is a collection of AC Clarke shorts called ‘Tales from the White Hart’ which ranks as one of my favourites. The last ‘tale’ is frankly erotic – which came as a bit of a shock for an impressionable teenager looking for robots and sci-fi.


  • Phillip Jose Farmer?

    You got to admit, Riverworld is a stonking concept.

    I bought To Your Scattered Bodies Go when it first came out, and then had to wait years for The Fabulous Riverboat and each subsequent book.

  • Clarke was a writer whose books meant a great deal to me. I am greatly saddened by this news.

  • RAB

    Well death is always a sorrow, but sorry folks, I didn’t rate the guy at all.
    Sylistically, his writing was flat and rather pedestrian.
    He is known for 2001, but that is because Kubrick made the movie, not because he wrote the book. In fact it was a short story before the film was made.
    Oh and the idea of Geopositional satellites.But I’m sure he wasn’t alone in thinking them up.

  • Nick M


    I love the book and can’t stand the film.

    I’m a computer tech and deal with HAL every day.

    I have 50 brilliant ideas a day and most have already been conceived. Big deal, they’re still corking plans.

  • xj

    Geopositional satellites.But I’m sure he wasn’t alone in thinking them up.

    FWIW, I took some classes in physics back in the 1990s and the textbook referred to geostationary orbits as the so-called “parking” or “Clarke” orbits. So he was credited as the discoverer, by that author at least.

  • RAB

    I love the book and can’t stand the film.

    Thats odd Nick, cos the book IS the film.
    The original short story, the Sentinel, bears little resemblance to it.
    The book was written to coinside with the release of the Movie.
    He is also “credited” with Arthur C Clarkes Mysterious World, tv series and book. But I happen to know that he didn’t write a word of it. Indeed he didn’t believe a word of it. He thought it all Bunk.
    Still cashed the cheques though!

  • Alsadius

    Can’t say I cared for how weird and left-wing he got in his later years(read The Trigger if you ever want to see an anti-gun rant thinly disguised as sci-fi, for example), but he was still a great author on the whole. He’ll be missed.

  • Fred

    I have his non fiction book, How the World Was One. It’s an engaging history of communications from undersea cables to satellites (and back to undersea cables!)

  • Nick M

    I know the book and film were essentially conceived in parallel but…

    I enjoyed reading it and I didn’t enjoy watching it. What can I say?

    IMHO Kubrick made one good film – Dr Strangelove – and a a whole slew of crap after that. Well, that’s a little unkind because eveything else he made were interesting failures and worth watching.

    The ultimate insanity was what turned into AI. Brian Aldiss had told him it was bonkers to attempt to re-write Pinocchio and it was…

    I rather liked the original short story and it’s Dickian title: “Supertoys Last All Summer Long”.

  • RAB,

    Go and read “The Star”and see if you still think Clarke’s writing is flat and pedestrian.

    The late Poul Anderson definitely belongs with the greats. I never liked Asimov all that much.

  • RAB

    Look folks I dont want to rain on anyones parade, honest I dont, but I’m a critic, and criticise is what we do. I’m obviously not alone either. This is from the Times Obituary today-

    His writing, like his TV appearances, was stiff and gawky …

    Childhoods End, was a book I loved when I read it aged 15. I even wrote a poem on the theme that got in the school magazine.
    But if you can get through the didactic finger wagging socialism of the Aliens “setting the world to rights” before the Finale of cosmic absorption, then you are a better man than I.
    I recently re-read it you see, and my dentist says I really shouldn’t grind my teeth like that!

  • RAB: The copyright page of all but the first edition of “Childhood’s End” contains the rather extraordinary disclaimer “The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author”. This does lead to the question of exactly whose they might be, precisely, but it does indicate that although Clarke wrote it, he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the direction that book took and what it said. Clarke’s other most notable book of the 1950s, “The City and the Stars”, looks at the question of individual versus collective rather more directly, I think, and it comes out pretty strongly on the side of individualism and free will. The two books are by the same author but rather at odds with one another, and Clarke’s need to go as far as disclaim one of them made it very clear which viewpoint he himself subscribed to. Clarke was not a a libertarian, but he did consistently take the viewpoint that technological progress was a good thing, and a liberating thing, in that it leads to increased rather than reduced freedom. Read his non-fiction. “How the World Was One” has already been mentioned, but also read “Profiles of the Future”, which is wonderfully and remarkably prescient, except for the chapter on hovercraft which is hilariously wrong.

    I need to write a piece explaining exactly why his writing meant as much to me as it did. I don’t have time today, alas. Hopefully I shall at some point in the next few days.

  • Dale Amon

    Yes, “The City and The Stars” is one of the novels I put among my all time favorites. (I didn’t much care for the sequel written by Benford I believe, although it contained interesting ideas).

    “Earthrise” was another favorite of mine. It has one of the best descriptions of a space battle I can remember ever reading. It also contains the description of the rescue of the Martian crew from the crippled ship in which they have to ‘breath vacuum’ for 60 seconds to get across to the interplanetary space liner. which was on the same Earth to Mars orbit.

    Then there was “A Fall of Moondust” which explored the idea of a dust filled crater into which a vehicle sinks.

    There are the unforgettable series that started with “Rendezvous with Rama”.

    The sequels to “2001” were better than the originals in my mind and really took you to strange places.

    Did he write “Space Station E-1” or was that someone else?

    I am really hard pressed to think of a Clarke novel that was not rivetting hard SF…

  • Dale Amon

    Oh, and who can ignore his brilliant shorts? “Rescue Mission” was another of my all time favorites.

    And of course the wonderful “Tales from the White Hart” stories!

    Arthur was definitely a giant among the writers of Hard Science Fiction, the person who first explored many ideas that later became standards. It helps that he really was a scientist and knew his physics.

  • Michael Jennings:

    The reason for the disclaimer at the front of “Childhood’s End : “The opinions expressed in this book are not those of the author” is pretty damned obvious.

    Didn’t the aliens say in the book “the stars are not for man” ?

  • nostalgic

    At a bookstall at Liverpool St Station many years ago I bought a paperback to read on the train. It was A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke and from the first paragraph I was hooked on SF.
    I thought he was the greatest until I read Heinlein, and then Asimov and I’m still not sure which of these 3 can be reckoned as the best. I’ve read 100s of SF novels since that heady evening and the only writer IMHO to come close to those 3 is Larry Niven.
    Anyway, wherever in the stars you are Arthur, many many thanks for so much thought-provoking writing.

  • Paul Marks

    I am a Heinlein man – especially the short stories.

    However, may Arthur C. Clarke rest in peace.