Thursday, March 20, 2008

Requiescat in Pace

Arthur C. Clarke is dead.

There is no contender for the throne, the pretenders are especially inadequate. Now all the old masters of scientific science-fiction are gone. I loved Asimov best overall but Clarke *moved* me more often. I admit I miss Heinlein, too, but only for his earlier work; he essentially fell off my radar after "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and I never found him to be an admirable person, like I did Asimov, Clarke, and others from that generation. I'm also not ashamed to admit that I loved Alice Mary (Andre) Norton, who died in 2005. Juvenile books? Fluff? Call it what you want; insult it if you must. I don't care; I love Andre Norton and still reread her regularly. "Star Rangers" aka "The Last Planet" remains one of my alltime favorites. But back to Sir Arthur…

Arthur C. Clarke gave us "The Star," "The Nine Billion Names of God," "Childhood's End," "The City and the Stars," the concept of geosynchronous communications satellites (and that orbital region is now called – by the cognoscenti – the Clarke Belt, in his honor), the concept of the space elevator, which I expect to see started if not completed in my lifetime, and so much more. Ok, and I guess I can't escape without referencing "The Sentinel" which was turned into "2001: A Space Odyssey."

I'll miss him.

I opened part 2 of my math rant with Clarke's famous quote about science and magic and also referenced in that diatribe his waggish "Fourth Law" which states the ineffable truth: For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert.

But none to match Sir Arthur.

Adieu, mon vieux!


  1. I make no apology to those of you who are gonna throw Tsiolkovsky at me regarding the space elevator. He was a brilliant thinker and innovator and has a darkside Lunar crater named after him. (You hear it mentioned in "Apollo 13.") But nobody argues for him in the context of flight equations vs. the Wright brothers, or rocketry vs. Oberth, Goddard, et al., and I ain't gonna cede the space elevator to him in place of Clarke.

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