Neither technology nor magic was sufficiently advanced.
March 18, 2008 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001, inventor of the telecommunications satellite and the only reason most geeks can find Sri Lanka on a map, has died shortly after celebrating his 90th birthday.
posted by Skorgu (292 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
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posted by dhammond at 3:16 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by box at 3:17 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by popcassady at 3:18 PM on March 18, 2008


Guess he won't get to see that space elevator built after all.

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posted by bap98189 at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by joedan at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2008


Thank you for this respectful, thought out post, Skorgu.
posted by spec80 at 3:19 PM on March 18, 2008


Uh, this far and nobody has called double?
posted by wheelieman at 3:20 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by kuujjuarapik at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2008


2001 was the first "book for adults" I read in one sitting as a kid. Thanks for inspiring me, Mr. Clarke.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by nola at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2008


Uh, this far and nobody has called double?

Can we keep this one?
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on March 18, 2008


wheelieman, shhhh, this is a more respectful post than the other one.
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posted by theora55 at 3:22 PM on March 18, 2008


Man...another one bites the dust :(

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posted by UseyurBrain at 3:22 PM on March 18, 2008


wheelieman, if you read the comments in the first thread, you'll see that this one is far superior and does not wish someone else would die in order to fulfill the "rule of three".
posted by spec80 at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2008


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Passing of another scifi great.
posted by Captain_Science at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2008


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The only famous person I've ever had an unsolicited personal email from... commentating on something I had written about him; so I'll fondly remember him just for that, never mind all the fiction.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by anthill at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Duncan at 3:23 PM on March 18, 2008


We're keeping this one.
posted by cortex at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


On a personal note, Arthur C. Clarke holds one of the highest places in my private pantheon. The Fountains of Paradise and its glorious depictions of the murals at Sigiriya affected me far more than I can rightly explain. As trite as it is to say aloud, I truly feel the world is a darker place without him.
posted by Skorgu at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God - but to create him."

Man, that guy was one of my heros.
Dammit, we're not immortal.
But I really wish.
He could have been.
I guess in some way.
He always will be.

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posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2008


2001 and Rendezvous with Rama were great.

2061 was pretty OK.

3001 was terrible, but hey, better than anything I've written.

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posted by adamdschneider at 3:25 PM on March 18, 2008


"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."

Farewell.

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posted by never used baby shoes at 3:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by infinitewindow at 3:25 PM on March 18, 2008


"Human judges can show mercy. But against the laws of nature, there is no appeal."

Rest in Peace, Mr Clarke. I hope you were right, and that there is hope for us all after all.

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posted by anastasiav at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by LeeJay at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2008


Many authors and artists and actors die, some greater, most lesser, but Arthur C. Clarke's life was very special: sui generis. R.I.P.
posted by kozad at 3:26 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:27 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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...my god, it's full of stars!

It was only after reading a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, I forget the title but it was in a collection called the 9 Billion Names of God, that I felt trapped on the earth and knew the sadness of probably dying here without ever traveling the stars. The end of that story made me deeply sad and made it hard to breathe. I have that feeling again today.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2008 [50 favorites]


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posted by teferi at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by PenDevil at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


You couldn't say he went before his time, but man, it still stings. 2001, Childhood's End, and Rendezvous With Rama are three of my favorite stories.

At least we still have Bradbury.
posted by Silune at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by booticon at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2008


And this, truly, is Childhood's End.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2008


As an astronaut knocks over a crystal goblet, he becomes absorbed into the monolith of the Starchild...

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posted by jonp72 at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2008


You want a rule of three ? Here are Hawkings, Sagan and Clarke all in one video.
posted by elpapacito at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by tracert at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2008


The man was an inspiration. He will be missed.

Que descanses en paz.
posted by papafrita at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2008


I can only imagine the smalltalk in the queue for the pearly gates Arthur C Clarke is having with Captain Birds Eye.

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posted by randomination at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2008


Why did Clarke choose to live in Sri Lanka?
posted by mattoxic at 3:31 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by ekstasis23 at 3:32 PM on March 18, 2008


Thank you for stretching my imagination, Mr. Clarke.
posted by maxwelton at 3:32 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by mosk at 3:32 PM on March 18, 2008


For such a long time I read everything I could get my hands on by Arthur C. Clarke. Thanks.


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posted by pointilist at 3:33 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by [expletive deleted] at 3:33 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Zonker at 3:33 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by cerebus19 at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2008


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Such a loss. Clarke is one of the major reasons I took my education as fas as I did.
posted by oflinkey at 3:35 PM on March 18, 2008



posted by Rhaomi at 3:36 PM on March 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


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posted by bruceo at 3:36 PM on March 18, 2008


Goddamit fleetmouse I'm crying now. Thanks a lot. Fuck.
posted by Skorgu at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by katillathehun at 3:38 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by borkencode at 3:40 PM on March 18, 2008


He was a great man who enriched the lives of others. He'll be missed. He led a full, fruitful life, however, and all of us would be lucky to accomplish so much and die at 90.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:42 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Navelgazer at 3:42 PM on March 18, 2008


I was introduced to SciFi by way of my Uncle, who was big into the classics of the genre (ie: The Big Three) . The first book he gave me, when I was about 9 or 10, was Rendezvous with Rama and, though I didn't finish it the first time around (because I lost it), I loved it. I never really took to Heinlein, and while I was a huge Asimov fan, I always loved Clarke best. 2001 set the standard by which I judged SciFi for many years, and I even loved the cooky stuff like Childhood's End. I always felt his work explored the most interesting topics - I loved that he seemed especially fond of humanities' reaction to "first contact," and I loved that, as often as not, such contact led not to chaos or enlightenment - the obvious choices - but were ambiguous and often befuddling. I'm thinking particularly of 2001 and Rama in this regard: and while several of the sequels ruined a lot of that for me (particularly in the case of Rama), he leaves far more unknown than known.

Fantastic thinker and writer, a hell of an intellect. I wish more still had his desire to reach out and explore.
posted by absalom at 3:45 PM on March 18, 2008


I think I have a bit of a re-reading project on the way.
posted by Artw at 3:45 PM on March 18, 2008


Was he gay?

Just curious.

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posted by sien at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by sebastienbailard at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Pecinpah at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2008


A star has gone out.

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posted by MonkeyToes at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by paulus andronicus at 3:47 PM on March 18, 2008


I read Clarke on Shakespeare and Clarke on the Bible, and tons of sci-fi. I am sad.

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Have to watch 2001 again tonight.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:47 PM on March 18, 2008


Clarke and Kubrick were the architects of my dreams when I was kid. I saw 2001 in the theater when I was 8. I didn't understand it but I loved it.

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posted by doctor_negative at 3:48 PM on March 18, 2008


Was he gay?

Old Guardian piece:
Clarke's private life remains a mystery. He was married briefly to an American, Marilyn Mayfield, now dead, whom he met while diving in Florida in the 50s. Asked whether he is gay, Clarke always gives the same puckish pro forma answer: "No, merely cheerful." The answer, presumably, lies in the "Clarkives" - a vast collection of his manuscripts and private writings, to be published 50 years after his death.
posted by pracowity at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2008


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Why did Clarke choose to live in Sri Lanka?
posted by mattoxic at 3:31 PM on March 18


from NYT

And while his imagination and research ramble the universe, through space and time, and into the inventiveness of the human mind, Mr. Clarke's attention, or better, his creative powers, dwell little on the island he has adopted as home.

Indeed, it was his fascination with space that landed him here. "When skin diving started," he explained, "I realized I could be weightless. By god, I could be weightless! Well, my hobbies have a way of getting out of control. One year early on, Harper's commissioned a book on the Great Barrier Reef, and I stopped here on the way. That was in '56. I did a book on dives around Sri Lanka. So, here we are."
posted by infini at 3:49 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by YAMWAK at 3:50 PM on March 18, 2008


L.A. Times obit (via io9).
posted by mcwetboy at 3:51 PM on March 18, 2008


Clarke and Asimov kept me transfix growing up on the farm. Mr. Clarke RIP, and thanks for giving me the joy of reading through your stories.
posted by brickman at 3:51 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Brainy at 3:53 PM on March 18, 2008


Clarke's forward to the novel "2001: A Space Odyssey":

"Behind every man now alive stand thirty ghosts, for that is the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. Since the dawn of time, roughly a hundred billion human beings have walked the planet Earth. Now this is an interesting number, for by a curious coincidence there are approximately a hundred billion stars in our local universe, the Milky Way. So for every man who has ever lived, in this universe, there shines a star."

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posted by New Frontier at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


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agree...damn you fleetmouse
posted by ShawnString at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by dazed_one at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2008


BBC obit (via Giz).
posted by mcwetboy at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2008


I knew I shouldn't have said his name aloud for the nine billionth time.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I can't put into words how much this affects me.

When I started to read science fiction, which was pretty much when I started to read, he was the voice who spoke to me the strongest. I suppose you can't be a West Country geek and not make connections, not notice that Marconi reached into the invisible from an ancient, rocky coast woven with echoes of humanity's creation.

Devoured the novels: Childhood's End remains with me, will remain with me until I die, as a beautiful and moving statement that what we are is transient, and what we may become is the greatest adventure.

Yet it was his short stories which really took me over. They ignited in me a feeling for the transcendental promise and dangers of being a tool-using ape, of the separateness of intelligence from the places in which it finds itself, and how our pasts and futures are drawn together in the moment. Also, they were enormous fun.

I was lucky enough to know someone who worked with ACC in the war on radar, and even luckier, one afternoon in a PR office in Soho, to talk to the man himself over a video satellite link. The details are long forgotten: I remember the chuckle.

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
posted by Devonian at 3:55 PM on March 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


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posted by juv3nal at 3:55 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by ijoshua at 3:56 PM on March 18, 2008


Damn.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:56 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by gemmy at 3:58 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Thorzdad at 4:02 PM on March 18, 2008


) O-----[
posted by brownpau at 4:02 PM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Such a loss. Clarke is one of the major reasons I took my education as fas as I did.

Not far enough, I guess. ; )

I keed, I keed.
posted by ericb at 4:03 PM on March 18, 2008


I own only one of his books -- a small mass market paperback anthology of short stories that I bought on a whim at a thrift store when I was still in high school. I must have read that book a dozen times in the intervening years. His short stories are perfect for reading on the bus: quick, well-paced, intelligent, witty, and dealing in fascinating subject matter -- in short, highly re-readable. I feel I owe it to his memory to seek out more of his work.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:03 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by disclaimer at 4:04 PM on March 18, 2008


Clarke was the master of "hard" science fiction. He was the best at communicating complex concepts in few, simple words. Time to pull Rendezvous with Rama off my shelf for another read.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 4:04 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Caduceus at 4:05 PM on March 18, 2008


"Look," whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.)

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





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posted by chuq at 4:06 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Z303 at 4:07 PM on March 18, 2008


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;-(
posted by chime at 4:09 PM on March 18, 2008


Please please please read Childhood's End, it is a truly amazing piece of literature.

Somewhere in the cosmos, a new star is born.
posted by baphomet at 4:11 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2008


Wow, just this Saturday I picked up a copy of Fortean Times and learned that Arthur Clarke's Mysterious World is now available on DVD. I read the companion book which I quite liked, but I never saw the TV shows. Sadly for this American, it seems to be available only in PAL format...

Of any celebrity to have their ashes sent into orbit, he should be the one.
posted by Tube at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2008


Strange. I think I dreamed last night that Clarke had died. I think 2001: A Space Odyssey was one of the first videotapes I ever rented (I must have been nine). I was surprised at how much more playful his writing style was than Kubrick's style as a director.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:12 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by WPW at 4:13 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by futility closet at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2008


I fully admit that this is an odd sentiment, but whenever I've looked at my bookshelves lately, there's this kind of with us/not with us dichotomy that runs through my mind, sadly. And just now I realize that next to Sagan I have all my Clarke. (on the other side, Vonnegut) The whole shelf just looks... dark, to me now. I knew I valued the words. I didn't realize until Vonnegut's passing how much I valued the possibility of more of them -- and more, that the mind behind them was still seeing the world I was, taking it in, digesting it, helping make sense of it all. Today feels like that again.

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posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


For so many well-spent summer days in and out of the library, thanks so much.
posted by everichon at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Grangousier at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by purephase at 4:14 PM on March 18, 2008


At least we still have Bradbury.

I'm aware of his work...
posted by The Tensor at 4:16 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


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posted by Kifer85 at 4:18 PM on March 18, 2008


I haven't read any Clarke in a long time--3001 was the last novel of his I read. But for some reason I read 2010 over and over and over again as a child--I think I liked it even more than 2001, and though the film version of it certainly doesn't compare to Kubrick, it's unfairly maligned. It's worth seeing once just for the amazing visual effects by Richard Edlund.

Also, I changed my wallpaper to this today.
posted by Prospero at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


A true hero dances in the stars tonight.

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posted by dbiedny at 4:20 PM on March 18, 2008


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Have a good rendezvous old man.
posted by alms at 4:21 PM on March 18, 2008


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O <>
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:21 PM on March 18, 2008


Remember when Vonnegut died last year? For all the people who this is like that was for me, I am so so sorry.

It is now a terrible day.

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posted by humannaire at 4:22 PM on March 18, 2008


Interesting minds like that don't really die, they keep pushing outwards towards infinity.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2008


That man got me to start reading books and taught me how to dream big.

Never done this before, but:

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posted by bondcliff at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2008



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posted by lundman at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2008


Ten years ago I was at a lecture on the exploration of Europa sponsored by JPL. Arthur C. Clarke was linked in live from Sri Lanka. The panel was seated on stage and behind them was an enormous screen on which his image was projected. The video feed did not work properly and for a moment it was just darkness as he said hello. Then he appeared, his head filled the screen, a behemoth looming over the stage. To tell the truth I remember very little about the panel itself, but that memory of Arthur C. Clarke—enormous, his voice thundering—has endured.
posted by hindmost at 4:24 PM on March 18, 2008


Ah, nuts. RIP Mr. Clarke. The world is a better place for your having lived.
posted by ooga_booga at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by wintermute2_0 at 4:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by eyeballkid at 4:29 PM on March 18, 2008


Man, I love Clarke's work. Oddly enough the short story that comes to mind at the moment is "Dog Star." Makes me tear up every time I read it.

One more star has gone out. Thanks for making the world a great place, Mr. Clarke.

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posted by lumpenprole at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Falling_Saint at 4:31 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:32 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by gcbv at 4:33 PM on March 18, 2008


I remember the first time I saw 2001. It was about 1994 and I was 13 years old -really the perfect impressionable age for such a film. We got a free cable box for a WHOLE MONTH -something my rural parents refused to keep around and pay for. Between viewings of MTV's Nirvana Unplugged on endless repeat, I caught a promo on TBS or TNT for 2001: A Space Odyssey, some old movie I didn't even know existed, but hey I liked space... Hell, I LOVED space. I bought a 1992 Columbus Quincentenary coin from the US Mint with my savings because it had a space shuttle on it. I was obsessed as any kid might be with Star Wars. I even loved The Last Starfighter ["I said, back to sleep Louis, or I'm telling Mom about your Playboys!"].

That's what aliens were. That's what space travel was. Westerns in space. Fast. Cool. Flashy.

But my older brother told me, "Watch that movie when it comes on tonight. It's great. There's no dialog for the first 30 minutes. It's even on the Vatican Top Ten."

What? No dialog for how long? The Vatican has a Top Ten?! These were concepts that weren't possible at that time in my life. Unfortunately it wasn't supposed to air until 11:00PM on a school night, so I figured I'd have to tape it and watch only the beginning. When it finally came on, I was riveted. It changed everything I know about what a film could be. It didn't try to "entertain" me. It was slooooow, but the suspense was thick. And It really freaked me out. Space was cold. Space was lonely. And when the movie ends, it doesn't answer many of the questions it raises. It continues to ask up until you see the last image of the Star Child.

There are few nights that changed my life so profoundly. I didn't go to bed until the credits rolled - of 2010 the lesser sequel they played right after, 3:30 AM on a school night for an 8th grader. I borrowed Rendezvous With Rama from the library shortly thereafter and been a fan of Clarke ever since. It's sequel Rama II even had a praising blurb from Playboy plastered across the cover, which was pretty cool to a middle schooler in 1994.

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posted by yeti at 4:34 PM on March 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


Imperial Earth was always my favorite, even though it doesn't really have much of a plot. It just seemed to have one of the most complete visions of what it might be like to live on another world.

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posted by octothorpe at 4:35 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by gomichild at 4:37 PM on March 18, 2008


Strange. I think I dreamed last night that Clarke had died.

Okay. This is weird super coincidence becuase a few weeks ago I had a dream of being in Sri Lanka with my friend Roshan (whose family is Sri Lankan and we had drinks with him the Friday before) and I asked him if he knew where Clarke lived and told me it was a big secret.

So we went around on this beach asking people. And we ran into Carl Sagan sitting under at a beach cafe table under an umbrella, with his twig pale white man legs in baggy Ghurka shorts, and Sagan said that he was expecting Clarke for tea sometime soon and if we wanted to wait we could with him. He starts telling us about quantum this and that. I was pretending to be smart.

There were these funny tiny flowers everywhere, like sparkly orchids, that were growing and blooming in slow motion (or fast motion, really) all at the edge of jungle and up onto the table. I was worried they might grow in my ice tea. But they didn't.

And hit me. "I'm sorry if this seems rude. But aren't you dead?" I asked him. "And he looked at me and smiled real wide and said "I know. I'm just as surprised as you." He looked good so I figured I must have it wrong.

I remember feeling kind of sad. But happy to see him and then I woke up.


WEIRD.
posted by tkchrist at 4:37 PM on March 18, 2008 [14 favorites]


Wow. Nice timing, damnit. I just start reading "2001" for the first time, having read all the others in the arc.

He won't be misses as much as most - for he gave us so much and left his mark all around us.

*clicks post, hoping irrationally that some packets will travel via communications satellite*
posted by loquacious at 4:39 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by tkchrist at 4:40 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by mullingitover at 4:40 PM on March 18, 2008


misses-missed
posted by loquacious at 4:41 PM on March 18, 2008


Ah, damnit.

This is the first and likely last MetaFilter obit I'll ever post in. Everyone has their someone, the writer who seized their mind and their heart when they were children. For me, it's Clarke.

Asimov and Clarke were two of the greatest gifts my late grandmother gave me. Asimov she loved for his wittiness, erudition, and sheer quantity; but it was Clarke who spoke of the truly infinite, the vast deeps of space, the mind-bending, world-shaping stuff that made me simultaneously aware of my own fragile smallness and uniqueness.

I loved that the man, to me, remained the quintessential eccentric English expatriate - and that, somehow, was reflected in his writing: of men unmoored, floating in space and time. I loved that he remained hands-on in science, from radar to the Interplanetary Society to geosynchronous satellites to medicine (remarking wryly that he was lucky to be an interesting test case : born late enough to survive polio, and living long enough to have suffered the effects of post-polio syndrome). I loved that he was open-minded enough to deal with parapsychology, and rational enough to dismiss it after investigating it for a number of years. I love that he never wrote down.

I don't believe Clarke had a belief in a personal God. But I would like to think that somewhere, in the realms of the very small or the infinitely large, some cosmic string is now humming his symphony.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 4:41 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Here's that cover of Rama II with "'This is a space trip no reader will want to miss.' - Playboy"
posted by yeti at 4:42 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


*
posted by ifthe21stcentury at 4:42 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by pearlybob at 4:44 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Curry at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2008


All these worlds are yours except Europa. Attempt no landings there.

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posted by tapeguy at 4:45 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Electrius at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2008



posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Big dot. I think I enjoyed his early stuff the most. The City and the Stars, or maybe The Deep Range. I wouldn't recommend his last decade of works, "co-written" with Stephen Baxter. I gather it was Clarke with the big ideas and Baxter doing the actual writing... neither of them seemed to benefit artistically from the other, though I'm sure it pays the bills.
posted by mumkin at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2008


Patrick Nielsen Hayden wrote something a while back (in a piece promoting another writer entirely, Robert Charles Wilson) that I think sums up the power of Clarke's writing very well: "A great deal of science fiction is about what the field’s insiders often call “sense of wonder,” a quality not entirely unrelated to the good old Romantic Sublime. Many of the genre’s classics are in essence carefully-tuned machines designed to attract readers whose primary conscious loyalty is to rationalism, and lead them by a series of plausible contrivances to a sudden crescendo of mystical awe."
posted by flashboy at 4:47 PM on March 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


.

I loved his work very much indeed.
posted by h00py at 4:48 PM on March 18, 2008


A round at the White Hart from me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:51 PM on March 18, 2008


"...relay this information to Earth.... Using my suit radio--no idea if it has enough range, but it's the only chance. Please listen carefully. THERE IS LIFE ON EUROPA. I repeat: THERE IS LIFE ON EUROPA..."

one of the most exciting passages I have ever read. Goosebump city.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by entropy at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2008


I read The Fountains of Paradise in 7th grade.

The space elevator made me an engineer, and I am thankful for it.
posted by enkiwa at 4:52 PM on March 18, 2008


Rest in peace.
posted by Sailormom at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2008



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posted by redbeard at 4:55 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by bleary at 4:56 PM on March 18, 2008



More of my youth passes on. . .

For
Against the Fall of Night
City and the Stars
Childhood's End
Expedition to Earth
Tales from the White Hart
The Nine Billion Names of God
The Wind from the Sun
2001 and more. . .

Thanks

.


When the funeral is over and we're in the mood for the wake,
remember please that Clarke also wrote Neutron Tide.
posted by Herodios at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by StrangeTikiGod at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2008


(well that didn't work, oh well, monolith, we hardly knew ye)

(but)


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posted by redbeard at 4:57 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by ardgedee at 4:58 PM on March 18, 2008


I am so sorry to hear this. I had assumed that he would simply live forever.
posted by parmanparman at 4:58 PM on March 18, 2008


If anyone deserves an obit thread as snark-free as this one, it was Mr. Clarke.

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posted by TedW at 4:59 PM on March 18, 2008


Clarke was the only sci-fi author I could find no true fault with, and the modern day public faces of science could learn a great deal from his style.

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posted by bunnytricks at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by about_time at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by cupcakeninja at 5:04 PM on March 18, 2008


I recently reread Childhoods End .
Oh. My. God.

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posted by djrock3k at 5:07 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by zardoz at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2008


OMG! OH NOES! I read everything I could get my hands on of his over the years. Thank you, ACC, for all the great reads. Hope your spot in heaven has a great view of the stars!
posted by Lynsey at 5:10 PM on March 18, 2008


To borrow a line from Max Shulman, my tears blotted out the rest of the page. RIP.
posted by Cranberry at 5:11 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by MythMaker at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Snyder at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by folgers crystals at 5:14 PM on March 18, 2008


crap

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posted by Grod at 5:15 PM on March 18, 2008


Uh, he was not the "inventor of the telecommunications satellite" any more than H. G. Wells was the "inventor of the time machine". That NASA article in the second link lists at least one person who deserves a heck of a lot more credit than Clarke:
Perhaps the first person to carefully evaluate the various technical options in satellite communications and evaluate the financial prospects was John R. Pierce of AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories…
Clarke was a fiction writer who speculated about the concept, but that does not make him an "inventor".
posted by Potsy at 5:17 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


}:-(
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by lumensimus at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2008


.

The others in the 3-fer had better not be anywhere near as awesome.
posted by ntartifex at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2008


.

honestly, I try to come up with some thoughtful and touching eulogy that expresses my deep sadness, my feelings for this man I only knew through his writing, the inspiration, the joy, and the awe I got out of his work, but I can never come up with anything that manages to properly convey this ambivalent mix of emptiness and fulfillment, so instead I just post a dot. think of it as a universe of its own, filled with vast reaches of suffocating void yet still burning with life. thanks, Arthur.
posted by effwerd at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Scoo at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by bashos_frog at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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But I will say thanks for so many hours of exciting and wonder-filled reading, Mr. Clarke. You're one reason I started writing science fiction. You set an example I can never reach, but I've had a hell of a lot of fun trying. RIP.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:28 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by voltairemodern at 5:33 PM on March 18, 2008


Overhead, without a fuss, the .s were going out
posted by wendell at 5:34 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by Pastabagel at 5:34 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by tommasz at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2008


Sir Arthur Clarke
CBE (Queen's Honours List, 1989)
KBE (Queen's Honours List, 1998)
Chancellor, International Space University (1989-present)
Honorary Chancellor, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka (1979-present)
posted by hortense at 5:40 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by bowline at 5:40 PM on March 18, 2008


O ------>==>

(the SS Arthur C. Clarke leaving orbit for Mars)
posted by jabo at 5:40 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Taksi Putra at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2008


Rest in peace, Sir Arthur C. Clarke.
Thanks for showing me that the universe is more glorious, complex, and unknowable than most anybody was letting on. Thanks for helping me learn to question received wisdom. Thanks for some just plain cool romps of imagination with which to escape {insert wherever you feel trapped}.

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posted by brantstrand at 5:42 PM on March 18, 2008




.

Even if it was the least book in the 2001 series, I still fantasize about owning one telepathic thought transcribers featured in 3001.
posted by Alison at 5:43 PM on March 18, 2008


A simple, lovely tribute from Jessica at Indexed.
posted by twsf at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by sveskemus at 5:49 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by the painkiller at 5:52 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by orgvol at 6:03 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by mwhybark at 6:07 PM on March 18, 2008


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Damn, damn, damn.

Having read much of his stuff years ago, recently I've been very much enjoying his books co-authored with Stephen Baxter.

Damn, damn, damn. Last of the Big Three.
posted by orthogonality at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by LobsterMitten at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by procrastination at 6:12 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Pronoiac at 6:16 PM on March 18, 2008


.
..
...
....
.....
......
Gygax, now Clarke? Sigh - time waits for no man.

I re-read RAMA and 2001 many more times than sooooo many other books... The wonder, the questions, the ideas.

Thanks!
posted by jkaczor at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by pmurray63 at 6:18 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by eclectist at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2008


"Look," whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.)
Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by mike3k at 6:22 PM on March 18, 2008


Wow - Gygax and Clarke were two men who shaped my thinking in my youth. Losing them both back to back... It makes me feel like we're all going to have to work much, much harder to pick up the slack.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:24 PM on March 18, 2008


The man doesn't need science or magic. He's pretty well immortal.

That's what my bookshelf says, anyway. And my DVD collection. And my GPS-satellite receiver devices. And my imagination.
posted by Eideteker at 6:27 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is not a good year to be one of my favorite authors. That's four or five now in the past few months.

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posted by ewagoner at 6:28 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by joannemerriam at 6:34 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by paddbear at 6:35 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by DataPacRat at 6:46 PM on March 18, 2008


.

(Though I am curious ... an earlier commenter said he read Clarke on Shakespeare. While I would love to find such a book, I'm coming up empty. I think this is because the dear commenter is merging Clarke's bibliography with Asimov's, maybe?)
posted by grabbingsand at 6:47 PM on March 18, 2008


What a tough day. He redefined how and what I read. RIP
posted by horseblind at 6:51 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:52 PM on March 18, 2008


I... goddamnit.

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posted by heeeraldo at 6:57 PM on March 18, 2008


From 2010:
Held there by curiosity, and a growing fear of the long loneliness that lay before him, that which had once been David Bowman, Commander of the United States spacecraft Discovery, watched as [its] hull boiled stubbornly away. For a long time, the ship retained its approximate shape; then the bearings of the carousel seized up, releasing instantly the stored momentum of the huge, spinning flywheel. In a soundless detonation, the incandescent fragments went their myriad separate ways.

"Hello, Dave. What has happened? Where am I?" ...

"I will explain later, Hal. We have plenty of time."
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posted by Johnny Assay at 7:08 PM on March 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Reading 2001, Childhood's End, Rendezvous with Rama and his short stories at a young age did as much as anything to shape how I see, think, and imagine. Back when I was little and there weren't nearly so many houses built up on the mountain and the night sky was darker and more vivid, I think it really took Clarke to get me to look up.

Funny how when I read the news of his passing, I wasn't struck so much with sorrow as with a warm rush of gratitude. Thanks, Mr. Clarke.
posted by Nathaniel W at 7:21 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Soliloquy at 7:23 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Marla Singer at 7:25 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by xorry at 7:32 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by saslett at 7:41 PM on March 18, 2008


Thank you for having made our world a richer place by sharing your stories with us. You shall be missed by so very many around the globe...

*
posted by Jade Dragon at 7:42 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:43 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by tyllwin at 7:46 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by furtive at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2008


I think I first picked up one of Clarke's books when I was in seventh grade with the foreign service kids in Ankara, Turkey. I remember a big heavy hardcover from the library, in that cellophane book cover; I'm pretty sure it was 2001. Then came 2010, and maybe Rendezvous with Rama. Back home in the States I moved on to the short stories: The Nine Billion Names of God, The Wind From the Sun, and The Other Side of the Sky. Then Tales From Planet Earth, A Fall of Moondust, The Deep Range, The Songs of Distant Earth, all those by the time I finished high school, and others followed later (Childhood's End among them of course). I knew Isaac Asimov as that guy Clarke sparred with in The View From Serendip. Asimov and Bradbury came later for me, in college, Bester later still. Clarke's wasn't the first science fiction I read, but it caught my imagination and helped me carry my youthful wonder out of childhood. Thank you, Arthur, for that.
posted by Songdog at 7:53 PM on March 18, 2008


When I was a kid, The Star and Let There Be Light totally blew my mind. Later I read Against the Fall of Night -- that's what a science fiction book should be.

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posted by dseaton at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2008


*
posted by bjgeiger at 8:02 PM on March 18, 2008


*
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:02 PM on March 18, 2008


to someone who stretched my imagination, swelled my faith in the emotional power of the genre, showed me the value in even the most abstract fiction... farewell.

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posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:17 PM on March 18, 2008


Rendezvous with Rama is, to me, the best of his novels, and one of my favorite books of all time. It doesn't have the mind-blowing metaphysics of 2001, but in its way it is probably one of the most thought-provoking stories I've read. I also am somewhat sorry that I read the followup Rama books he wrote, because they seemed so much less than the original.

I could probably say a lot more about his work, but I'll leave it at this: his writing expanded my mind in ways that no one else's has. He will be missed.
posted by deadcowdan at 8:19 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by mogget at 8:31 PM on March 18, 2008


monolith tombstone
1:4:9 ad infinitum...
posted by kliuless at 8:33 PM on March 18, 2008


I cried. I could not read through these comments without tears. Like some others have said, the world appears just a bit darker this evening.

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posted by drhydro at 8:35 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by brevator at 8:38 PM on March 18, 2008


I'm glad to know I'm not the only one without words at this. I really don't know what more to say.

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posted by barnacles at 8:39 PM on March 18, 2008


I learned in his books in my teens that everything is scientifically possible, including wonders.
A big boost when entering adult life.
Thanks.
posted by bru at 8:41 PM on March 18, 2008


Wow.

I started out at age eight with The Sands of Mars and never looked back.

Thanks, Mr. Clarke!

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posted by trip and a half at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by hattifattener at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Mitheral at 8:44 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:45 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:47 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by MaHaGoN at 8:51 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 PM on March 18, 2008


Monolithic dot
posted by bz at 9:06 PM on March 18, 2008


Reading Clarke (and Asimov, and Heinlein) from my elementary school library inspired me to study the sciences.

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posted by porpoise at 9:07 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by sixo33 at 9:14 PM on March 18, 2008


There was an elegance and wonder in his writing. I am grateful for his many gifts and know that he will live on in all of the readers lucky enough to discover him. He opened doors for all of us.

Rest now...

*
posted by skepticbill at 9:27 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by anansi at 9:31 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by fuse theorem at 9:39 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by sacre_bleu at 10:10 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by motty at 10:21 PM on March 18, 2008


Having lost the man who got me reading in the first place this summer (my father) I've done a certain amount of thinking about death and memory. My da tried to get me to read Clarke when I was much younger. But, I only recently finished reading Rendezvous with Rama. And semi-understood it.

Given the nature of his writing, the subject matter and its vast circulation; I can definitely say that we are all glad that he was here and gave so much of his imagination to us. I know I'll miss the material that he won't now produce of, and for, the future.

thanks Mr. Clarke for a different window.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:29 PM on March 18, 2008


I cannot . enough.


The Star is probably my favorite short story of all time, and were I to make a list of top 20, Clarke would probably show up there easily half a dozen times.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:35 PM on March 18, 2008


I can remember the copy of 2001 I read in seventh grade. It was an old, yellow, paperback in library binding. The cover was white. You could see dirt, smudges, and scuff marks on it. It was well-read. I brought my questions about it to my science teacher and we had such a grown-up conversation. We talked about primate and human society, human nature, and human impulsion. I remember that discussion's excitement.

What passion, precision, and reverence I learned from Arthur C. Clarke I don't think I could separate from my own. Clarke wasn't the only author who affected me, but he was soulful. His wonder was holy. It is holy. My life today follows greatly from that book then, and his other works. May he rest in peace.

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posted by halonine at 10:47 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by ChrisR at 10:48 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by dopeypanda at 10:55 PM on March 18, 2008


I've been lurking on MF for years, but had to respond to this. The first adult science fiction book I remember reading, in around 6th grade, was Clarke's "The City and The Stars". As a gay kid in the boonies of Michigan in the 60s, the isolation of Alvin in that old society felt familiar, and the book called to me in a way that few other books had. That book lead to a lifetime of SF reading and eventually to me getting advanced degrees in EE.

A couple of years ago, I was reading the re-issue of Felice Picano's "Dryland's End". In the forward of that book, Picano describes having exactly the same reaction to reading "City" as a teenager, which led him to become a successful writer. He then goes on to say that he had emailed Clarke to thank him. The reply was (sorry, I'm paraphrasing here, I don't remember it exactly) that the book was based on Clarke's isolation growing up gay in Britain, and that he had come out in one of his books, but that no-one had noticed.

So thank you, Arthur C. Clarke, for helping me feel less alone as a boy.
posted by Blueeyed at 11:06 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by theiconoclast31 at 11:15 PM on March 18, 2008


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posted by Vicarious at 11:25 PM on March 18, 2008


My defining moment with 2001 came when I read the section which describes the ship using the orbit of a planet to gather speed and ricochet outward on its journey. I don't have the passage on hand, but there was a very neatly accomplished sentence or two which explained how, though nearly infinitesimal on a planetary scale, the planet actually slowed down by the exact same amount the spaceship sped up. I remember distinctly how it felt when I read that, because I had such a rush of reaction to that idea I had to put the book down to steady myself. I wasn't sure if I'd been slowed down or sped up by the power of those words. But it felt like both.


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posted by roombythelake at 11:43 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:43 PM on March 18, 2008


:`(

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posted by ysabet at 12:24 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by MikeKD at 12:31 AM on March 19, 2008


I love Clarke's work, especially 2010. His earlier work was his best, and I'd like to forget all the crap he co-wrote with that pretender Gentry Lee later on. But no amount of co-written sub-par SF can make a dent in the enormous impact Clarke has had on the world and our society. He embodies all the reasons we must explore space, and though he's gone now, we still need, now more than ever, to get off our asses and do it.

RIP, Arthur. All these worlds are yours...
posted by Poagao at 12:32 AM on March 19, 2008


I just want to thank him for doing Fractals: The Colour of Infinity in '97.
He made something so complicated understandable.
posted by Duke999R at 12:40 AM on March 19, 2008


.

We're close coming to the end of a great era of science fiction :(
posted by Chunder at 12:58 AM on March 19, 2008


dai..... sy.......

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posted by hal9k at 1:08 AM on March 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by mnsc at 1:15 AM on March 19, 2008


"Dr. Chandra, will I dream?"

"I don't know."

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posted by moonbiter at 1:29 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


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posted by DreamerFi at 1:37 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by nthdegx at 1:37 AM on March 19, 2008


Let me second octothorpe, Imperial Earth is a little known masterpiece. Also, for the whole gay thing, it's about a bisexual character. Childhood's End and Imperial Earth are my favorites of his novels.

I always liked the idea that Clarke was living the good life in Sri Lanka. I'll miss the idea of having him around. But should I ever need to reconnect to him I can always reread Imperial Earth, Childhood's End or some of his best short stories.
posted by Kattullus at 2:18 AM on March 19, 2008


*
posted by fixedgear at 2:22 AM on March 19, 2008


..--- ----- ----- .----
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:24 AM on March 19, 2008


|Y|
posted by JtJ at 2:50 AM on March 19, 2008


The three who taught us to dream of the future are now gone, all in the past.

It's been a long time since I read any of Mr. Clarke's work. I don't have any special quotes in mind. it is not unlikely there are examples of his that I have yet to enjoy. But I rarely read fiction anymore.

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posted by Goofyy at 4:29 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by Rabarberofficer at 5:13 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by valis at 5:59 AM on March 19, 2008


Here's Clarke's original speculative article for Wireless World, proposing re-purposing V2s as satellite relays for radio and television transmission. "Inventor" of the telecommunications satellite is probably inaccurate, but this piece is decidedly nonfiction. 1945, wow.
posted by steef at 6:09 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:17 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by I, Credulous at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by BT at 7:00 AM on March 19, 2008



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posted by moonlet at 9:20 AM on March 19, 2008


I passed my signed paperback of 2001 to my son a couple years back. This morning, he sent me a message that "Erd C. Clabs" had died.
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posted by cookie-k at 9:38 AM on March 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


A comment on Clarke as a gay man.

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posted by gingerbeer at 10:01 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by growli at 10:37 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by lunit at 10:55 AM on March 19, 2008


My mother was a huge fan of ACC. She passed on. If I believed in heaven I would hope they were having a nice chat about now. According to a journal she kept when I was a baby 2001 was the first movie I was taken to. It was 1969 and I was a newborn. I guess she couldn't find a babysitter. Sorry to those in the theater if I threw a fit.
posted by Justin Case at 11:19 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by Megafly at 11:40 AM on March 19, 2008


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posted by Sys Rq at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2008


*
Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
posted by _dario at 12:46 PM on March 19, 2008


****
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posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:05 PM on March 19, 2008


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posted by mathis23 at 1:54 PM on March 19, 2008


I loved 2010 as a kid. The >spoiler< at the end blew my mind far more than "It's full of stars."

ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE.
posted by straight at 2:01 PM on March 19, 2008


*

:(
posted by perilous at 4:49 PM on March 19, 2008


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posted by Vindaloo at 10:18 AM on March 20, 2008


By the 2020s he thought it likely that artificial intelligence would reach human level, dinosaurs would be cloned, and neurological research into the senses would mean that mankind could bypass information from the ears, eyes and skin. By 2050, he said, millions of bored human beings would freeze themselves in order to emigrate into the future to find adventure. He was not religious, and was no metaphysician; but he wanted and expected men to evolve until they became like gods. In “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), which he co-wrote with Stanley Kubrick, ape-man evolved into Star Child.

His epitaph for himself would have well suited man as he wanted him to be. “He never grew up; but he never stopped growing.”
The Economist's Obituary of Arthur C. Clarke.
posted by Kattullus at 12:03 PM on March 28, 2008


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