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RIP Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Picture swiped from amazon.co.uk, where you can buy a copy!

The last week has seen a number of the great and good pass on, but the one that resonated with me was the news of Sir Arthur C. Clarke's death at the age of 90. Clarke was one of the great visionaries of the 20th Century, and many things that he envisaged have come to pass including geosynchronous satellites, sat-nav, a number of space transport maneuvers, and plenty more – such as the space elevator – sit there in development or as tremendous concepts. Clarke also popularised science, and gave the story that became one of the most acclaimed SF films of all time, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Personally, the latter bored me silly although I admired the imagery.

Anyway, Clarke has great significance to me, along with Andre Norton and Isaac Azimov, as his writings shaped my interest in Science Fiction (especially hard SF) at a young age. I was introduced to him by my Australian second cousin, Kathy Finlay, who bought me a copy of Rendezvous with Rama when I was still a young lad. I loved the tale of scientific exploration, adventure and technology, combined with the shear sense of wonder of first contact with an alien artifact. Sadly, the later sequels didn't match up to the first book, but – like the Highlander films – one can always pretend that the later versions don't exist! This sense of wonder had me reading more of his books, then moving on to other authors and genres. Over Christmas, I re-read a number of his older works and they're still valid today.

I got quite annoyed listening to some of the literary intelligentsia harping on about how he was important, but really 'not very good as a writer'. It seems you have to write turgidly like Atwood's (apparently non-SF) post-apocalyptic novel, Oryx and Crake, to be a good writer. I think that time will prove them wrong, and that his significance will be more recognised as the distance grows.

So, rest well, Sir Arthur, wherever you are.