Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke Has Died

Arthur C. Clarke has passed away at age 90 in Sri Lanka, leaving explicit instructions that no religious ritual should accompany his funeral.

Clarke is often remembered as the inventor of the telecommunications satellite. His most famous science fiction novel, thanks in part to Stanley Kubrick, is probably 2001: A Space Odyssey, though I will always remember him best for Childhood's End, a powerful and intriguing work, made more intriguing by the notice in the front of early editions warning readers that the opinions of the novel are not those of the author.

Clarke is well-known for incorporating religious themes into his stories. His use of religion in fiction is most notable for its nuance, sophistication, and originality. In particular, his story "The Star," which depicts a Jesuit scientist who discovers that the Star of Bethlehem was a supernova that wiped out a civilization, is a masterpiece of short fiction. Another famous story, "The Nine Billion Names of God," is an unusual take on the concept of the apocalypse. Of all his short fiction I have read, I consider "The Wall of Darkness" best; it depicts scientific exploration in an alternate universe and has probably one of the best conclusions of any short story I know.

Christian readers may be interested to know that Clarke maintained a correspondence with C. S. Lewis, during which they good-naturedly ribbed each other.

Lucky has kindly collected some articles: See the the AP article by Ravi Nessman in the ChicoER. See the homage article by Ed Park in the L. A. Times. See also SF Signal, which has a list of links to free fiction by Clarke and a video.
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