Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke - 'He never grew up; but he never stopped growing.'

Science fiction writer, inventor and futurist Arthur C. Clarke has died. He wrote more than 100 sci-fi books, including "2001: A Space Odyssey." He is credited with coming up with the idea for the communications satellite and predicting space travel before rockets were even test fired.

Mr. Clarke was well aware of the importance of his role as science spokesman to the general population: "Most technological achievements were preceded by people writing and imagining them," he noted. "I’m sure we would not have had men on the Moon," he added, if it had not been for H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. "I’m rather proud of the fact that I know several astronauts who became astronauts through reading my books."
But the formative event of his childhood was his discovery, at age 13 — the year his father died — of a copy of "Astounding Stories of Super-Science," then the leading American science fiction magazine. He found its mix of boyish adventure and far-out (sometimes bogus) science intoxicating.

Among his legacies are Clarke’s Three Laws, provocative observations on science, science fiction and society that were published in his "Profiles of the Future" (1962):
  • "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
  • "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."
  • "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Along with Verne and Wells, Clarke said his greatest influences as a writer were Lord Dunsany, a British fantasist noted for his lyrical, if sometimes overblown, prose; Otto Stapledon, a British philosopher who wrote vast speculative narratives that projected human evolution to the furthest reaches of space and time; and Herman Melville’s "Moby-Dick."

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