I just read the sad news that Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90. He was the last surviving member of the Big Three of science fiction writers, Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov being the other two, both of whom died more than a decade ago. I’m not sure I can quite express my sorrow to hear that Clarke has passed. It markes the end of an era in science fiction. I’ve read 7 of his books, my favorite being 3001: Final Odyssey. I very much enjoyed his short science fiction, in particular his classics such as “The Star”, “The Nine Billion Names of God”, and “The Longest Science Fiction Story Ever Told”.
Back in December, Clarke posted a Happy Birthday video on YouTube that I interpreted to be his “farewell” to his fans. I guess that was, in fact, the case.
He was, perhaps, most famous for his collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the 1969 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was also the first to write a serious scientific paper on the use of communication satellites, something he wrote about more than 10 years before the Russians launched Sputnik. His science fiction, like Isaac Asimov’s focused on science and ideas. In fact, Asimov and Clarke maintained the Treaty of Central Park for years: By this treated, Isaac Asimov was required to say that Clarke was the best science fiction writer in the world, but that he was breathing down his neck. Clarke was required to say that Isaac Asimov was the best science writer in the world. Their witty banter at conventions is the stuff of legend.
Although he has passed, he will still have something new to say to the world of science fiction. In December 2008, according to Locus, a new novel, The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl (another old-timer from the Golden Age) is due to be released in hardcover by Del Rey books. And of course, he will live on in the memory of science fiction writers, fans, and scientists for generations to come.