March 19, 2008

Another giant gone

I'm a day late here, but Arthur C. Clarke has passed away. I was always a fan, even through his latest co-authored offerings. Childhood's End, Rendevous With Rama and The Fountains of Paradise will always remain among my favorites. In fact, I've even read both versions of his first novel, which John Derbyshire sees fit to mention here. More from Derbyshire:


I think I read everything Clarke wrote from then up to Fountains of Paradise (1979). Science fiction, like opera, is a thing not everybody "gets." To those who "get" it, though, Clarke was a great grand-master. He wrote "hard" sci-fi: no magic, fantasy, or weirdness, nothing that contradicted what is known. He scoffed at UFOs and other popular delusions of the time. He had a true scientist's respect for the evidence, yoked to a wonderful gift for speculating within the evidence. His feet were always planted firmly in known fact, while his mind soared through infinite space and time. (One of his novels takes place a billion years in the future.)

Clarke's unwavering respect for evidence showed up in his famous 1984 falling-out with Robert Heinlein over the Strategic Defense Initiative. Heinlein was for SDI, Clarke was against, and there was an ugly spat, with both men standing their ground. Later Clarke went over the evidence carefully, saw flaws in his math, changed his mind, and did his best to make up with Heinlein. (Making up with Heinlein unfortunately required extraterrestrial powers.)

Derbyshire also links to this classic short story of Clarke's, which will take you only a few well spent minutes to read. Have at it.

Posted by: Physics Geek at 01:31 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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