Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Fall of Moondust (1917-2008)

Arthur C. Clarke is dead. He was one of the last great voices of science fiction's Golden Age (1950s). It's quite likely you've never read anything by him unless you're a real SF geek, though he wrote dozens of books and hundreds of stories. But you've been influenced by him. Thank Stanley Kubrick - also dead - for that.

Maybe you know him from Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World television series, one of my favorites as a teenager. Arthur would introduce a strange and mysterious topic in each episode from his Sri Lankan home and then off you'd go with a wonderfully pretentious narrator who made every little thing sound so mysterious and exciting. Fun stuff.

Only a few weeks ago I picked up a Clarke book for the first time in, well, decades - the great Tales from the White Hart (1957), a collection of very short stories set in the White Hart pub, populated with scientists and science fictioneers always willing to tell or hear a strange tale. Good stuff, very good stuff.

If you haven't read it, get yourself to your local library and grab a copy of Childhood's End (1953). If you like that, try Rendezvous With Rama (1972) and The Fountains of Paradise (1979) (I am head over heels in love with the idea of giant elevators to space thanks to this book!). Great stuff.

Arthur had that sense of wonder we science fiction readers love, in spades. I'm sure there's many a NASA tech, JPL wunderkind, science teacher, ditch digger and garbageman out there who owes Arthur a huge debt. I do.

Thanks, Arthur.


Nazz Nomad said...

nice tribute. what a great writer... childhood's end is one of my favorite books. so hopeful, while being so apocalyptic.

gomonkeygo said...

Thanks, he was one of the good ones. I've been trying to get my son to read Childhood's End but with no luck so far. He's into the multi-volume heroic fantasy saga stuff right now (though to his credit he really loves Douglas Adams and Ray Bradbury) and it's hard to interest him in anything that isn't 900-pages long and one of ten volumes.