British-born science fiction author Arthur C Clarke, who turns 90 on Sunday, says all he wishes for is peace in his adopted home Sri Lanka where he has lived for the past five decades.
Sri Lanka’s most celebrated guest resident since 1956, Clarke said he had sadly watched a bitter ethnic conflict dividing his adopted country for nearly half his lifetime.
”I dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka as soon as possible,” he said, referring to Asia’s longest-running war in which the Tamil Tigers’ campaign for independence has left tens of thousands dead.
Although the conflict started in 1972, fighting has been escalating on the island since late 2005 when a Nordic-brokered truce unravelled.
”But I’m aware that peace cannot just be wished — it requires a great deal of hard work, courage and persistence,” the writer said in a taped message released to reporters late last week.
Clarke, who predicted the establishment of communication satellites and shot to fame after writing 2001: A Space Odyssey, said he did not feel ”a day older than 89” as he completed ”90 orbits around the Sun”.
”I have no regrets and no more personal ambitions,” said the writer, confined for the past three decades to a wheelchair because of the effects of childhood polio.
But Clarke added that he wanted to be allowed three wishes.
As well as peace in Sri Lanka, he would also like evidence of extra-terrestrial life and for the world to adopt cleaner fuels.
After a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser, Clarke said he would like to be remembered primarily as a writer as he pens another novel, The Last Theorem.
The Last Theorem has taken a lot longer than I expected. That could well be my last novel, but then I’ve said that before,” Clarke said in an interview with the BBC earlier this month.
”I want to be remembered most as a writer — one who entertained readers, and, hopefully, stretched their imagination as well,” he said.
Clarke has published more than 100 books and over 1 000 shorter works.
He grew up on a farm near Minehead, Somerset, and was knighted in 1998.
The science visionary said he now spends a good part of his day dreaming of times past, present and future as he tries to ”survive on 15 hours of sleep a day”.
Among his most treasured possessions, Clarke listed moondust smuggled out of Nasa and a copy of his book Fountains of Paradise flown aboard a space shuttle.
Sri Lanka has honoured Clarke with the nation’s highest national honour — ”Sri Lankabhimanya” and has also named a local scientific academy after him.
In the late 1990s, Clarke’s reputation suffered badly after allegations that he had sexually abused children, accusations he vehemently denied.
Sri Lankan justice officials later said there was not enough evidence to launch court proceedings. – AFP