Sci-fi guru Arthur C Clarke dies at 90

Pioneering science fiction writer and visionary Arthur C Clarke, best known for his work on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died in his adopted home of Sri Lanka at the age of 90.

He died of respiratory complications and heart failure doctors linked to the post-polio syndrome that had kept him wheelchair-bound for years.

Marking his ”90th orbit of the sun” in December, the prolific British-born author and theorist made three birthday wishes: For ET to call, for man to kick his oil habit and for peace in Sri Lanka.

Clarke was born in England on December 16 1917, and served as a radar specialist in the Royal Air Force during World War II.

He was one of the first to suggest the use of satellites orbiting the earth for communications, and in the 1940s forecast that man would reach the moon by the year 2000 — an idea experts at first dismissed as rubbish.

When Neil Armstrong landed in 1969, the United States said Clarke ”provided the essential intellectual drive that led us to the moon”.

Clarke wrote about 100 books and hundreds of short stories and articles, and wanted to be remembered foremost as a writer.

Trained as a scientist, he was renowned for basing his work on scientific fact and theory rather than pure fiction and for keeping humanity at the heart of his technological visions.

In 1964, he started to work with the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick on the script of a groundbreaking film which was to win audiences and accolades far wider than those of most previous science fiction — 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Based loosely on a short story he had written in 1948, it dealt poetically with themes of human evolution, technology and consciousness and came to be regarded by many as one of the greatest films ever made.

Big Three

Clarke, one of the most prolific authors of his genre, was the last surviving member of a group of science-fiction writers known as the ”Big Three”.

The two others were the Russian-born Isaac Asimov, who died in 1992, and Robert A Heinlein, a Missouri native who died in 1988.

”The thing about Clarke is he had this footprint lasting 60 years with a constant stream of publications,” said Russell Galen, his New York-based literary agent for more than 30 years.

”So he has a kind of stature from his long influence that puts him in a unique, elite group.”

Clarke finished reviewing the final manuscript of his latest novel The Last Theorem just days ago.

He had also been working on the idea of a ”space elevator”.

”The golden age of space is only just beginning,” Clarke forecast.

”Over the next 50 years, thousands of people will travel to Earth orbit and then to the moon and beyond. Space travel and space tourism will one day become almost as commonplace as flying to exotic destinations on our own planet.”

Clarke’s brother is travelling to Sri Lanka for his burial, due in Colombo’s general cemetery later this week.

Clarke left written instructions that his funeral be private and secular.

”Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral,” he wrote. – Reuters

Keep the powerful accountable

Subscribe for R30/mth for the first three months. Cancel anytime.

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Simon Gardner
Simon Gardner works from Dorset, United Kingdom. programmer, minimalist, lateral thinker. Simon Gardner has over 1039 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Zondo dismisses Fraser’s application to cross-examine witnesses

The former head of the State Security Agency and Zuma ally did not come close to complying with the state capture inquiry’s rules for cross-examination, Zondo said

Hawks head testifies before SAHRC: Intelligence would have been ‘ideal’

No members of the police, defence force or state security have been implicated ‘at this stage’ in ongoing investigations into the July unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

A to Z guide on HIV: The top 10 things...

The HIV pandemic isn’t going anywhere until a cure is found. In the meantime, HIV clinicians say South Africa should protect its victories

PODCAST: How South Africa fits into the global economy, pt...

Michael Power chats to the M&G editor-in-chief and business journalists about South Africa and its place in the global economy
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×