RIP: Arthur C. Clarke

by @ 12:20 am on March 19, 2008.

I am the quintessential science fiction geek.  There is something about the genre that appeals to me more than any other genre.  Perhaps it is the belief that what humans can conceive, humans can achieve.  Perhaps it is the fact that I can look around and see proof that what science fiction writers have predicted is coming to pass before my very eyes.  Perhaps it is a fascination with the fantastic.

The one thing I have learned from my science fiction fanaticism is that it is okay to dream; it is okay to meditate on the words “what if” and for the mind to reach out into the many possible futures.

I do not think I will ever be able to fully catalog all of the current innovations that can be attributed directly to science fiction.  For example, the concept of the modern flip-open cell phone can be traced all the way back to that place “where no man has gone before” with Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise.

Sometimes I wonder what some of these science fiction authors would think were they alive today.  Would they be in awe at how far the world has advanced, or would they just smile and say “I told you so”?

One author lived to see many of his literary predictions come true.  Sir Arthur C. Clarke was the first to envision the concept of a communications satellite.  Twenty-five years later, that vision became a reality.  He also predicted that we mere mortals would reach out into the heavens and set foot on the moon by the year 1970.

One of the things that really attracted me to Clarke’s writings was that his best stories were fantasy grounded in reality.  There was no racing through the universe at warp speeds, no ray guns, no lightsabers, and no mysterious particle that was the cause of, or solution to, all the problems of the world.  The heroes of his works were complex and real, as opposed to being virtuous knights in shining space suits.

Clarke’s visions have taken me on fantastic voyages to Jupiter and to many places beyond. They have also taken me to some of the deepest places on the earth, and he did it in such a way that I never had to leave the comfort of my living room.  This was quite an impressive feat for a man whom I have never met.

And, now, I shall never have that opportunity.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke passed away today at the age of 90.

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