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The Last Of The Giants

I'm hearing that Arthur C. Clarke has passed. I assume that it's true, but I'll have more thoughts later. In several ways, he was my favorite author--not just science fiction author, but author, period, growing up. Currently at a loss for words.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here's a link to the story.

Among many other things, he wrote the foreword to our July 20th ceremony (though not for that purpose--it was fair use).

[Update a couple minutes later]

Instapundit has some instathoughts.

[Update a few minutes later]

Bruce HendersonWebster already has a requiem up. He must have had it preprepared, like the MSM.

I have to dispute this, though:

The irony is that Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein would all have loved to go into space personally, but obviously were never able to.

He's joking, right? When it comes to Asimov, the man wouldn't even get on an airplane, let alone a rocket. If he had to travel long distances, it was always by train. The notion of the actual man going into space, regardless of his fantastic imagination, is ludicrous.

Meanwhile, Clark Lindsey has a link roundup.

Also, I should note that Bruce explains my post title in a way that I didn't, for those who didn't get it. And the fact that I have to explain it makes me feel old. More when I write a serious post about it.

[Update on Wednesday morning]

Sorry, wrong Bruce. It was Bruce Webster, not Bruce Henderson, who emails that Asimov would have loved to go into space, if he could do it via train. It must be a mite confusin' to have a Bruce blog. Do they sing the Australian philosopher's drinking song over there?

[Another update]

Bruce also notes that he didn't have the eulogy in the can:

I made my living as a writer for several years (see, mostly in computer journalism, and have published over 150 articles, columns, and reviews, plus a few books. Because of my tendency to, ah, wait until the last minute, I often wrote those articles, etc., the night before (or the night after) they were due. For example, during the two years I wrote a column for BYTE, I typically wrote that column -- usually 3000 to 4000 words and sometimes as much as 7000 words -- in one sitting, late at night, the day before deadline. So a 540-word post about something near and dear to my heart is hardly breaking a sweat.

Actually, being a major procrastinator myself, I can (strongly) identify with that. Apologies for the mistaken assumption.



Jason Bontrager wrote:

Jerry Pournelle has commented on Clarke's death, and there are plenty of news stories on Google News about it, so it's unlikely to be false, alas.

Four score and 10 years. Not a bad run.

Jim Bennett wrote:

The interesting question will be whether he will go for cryonic suspension. He was a supporter of the concept and did not believe in an afterlife or reincarnation. And he certainly could afford it.

Paul F. Dietz wrote:

Unless there was equipment there for rapid cooling, I doubt cryopreservation would make much sense. The structure of the brain begins to degrade rapidly at the cellular level soon after circulation is interrupted.

Rand Simberg wrote:

Unless there was equipment there for rapid cooling, I doubt cryopreservation would make much sense.

If he was signed up, and it was known that the end was near, presumably his cryopreservation company would have been standing by. But I have no idea whether or not he was signed up, or ever (despite his advanced thinking) had even prepared for the event.

Robin Goodfellow wrote:

An interesting thing about both Heinlein and Clarke is that they made legitimate inventions (or at least pre-saged inventions in very accurate fashion). Heinlein came up with the idea of remote manipulators, "waldos", while Clarke foresaw the importance of geostationary orbiting artificial satellites. Asimov too wrote quite a lot of non-fiction and contributed a lot outside of the sci-fi genre. There are few writers since who could hope to match the contributions to literature, society, and science these giants did.

NukemHill wrote:

Your Bruce Henderson link actually goes to Glenn's post as well.

Steve wrote:

Clarke, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein WERE science fiction when I was a boy. There is little else to say. I suppose I have that heaviness in my heart for my long gone youth, that baseball fans had when Babe Ruth or Joe DiMaggio died.

Scott wrote:

Last night I reread my favorite Clarke Collete ("Wind from the Sun") in honor of his passing. Even after all these years, the towering genius of the man still shines through.

Clarke was my favorite when I was young, and his work had a profound effect upon me, as I imagine it has on many others. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised, but his death has touched me on an emotional level that I have to admit I didn't really expect.

Stewart wrote:

I had read the first reports yesterday, but it wasn't till this morning, reading Bruce's report and getting to the final line of the first comment, that I choked up.

bfwebster wrote:


As I said in e-mail, thank you for the link, the kind words, and the correction regarding Asimov's feelings towards travel of any kind.

As for the Australian Philosopher's Drinking Song, it has shown up at the blog before (cf. the comments to this post).

And no problems with the assumption about the eulogy being pre-written. It's actually a compliment that you'd think it so. ..bruce..

Alan S. Blue wrote:

I haven't seen any mention of Clarke's Three Laws.

A Titan passes.

LB Parker wrote:

Clarke, Heinlien and Asimov were my introduction to the world of science fiction. My parents were avid readers, and gave me a love of books very early. I remember devouring the SF section of the local library when I was young. These authors taught me to dream, and that those dreams could become reality if I was willing to strive for them.

Their legacy, the dream of humanity living in space and on other worlds, lives on in all of us who read and loved their stories. It is a gift for which I will always be grateful.

Steve wrote:

Aren't we a maudlin bunch?

I realized after reading all our comments here, and others elsewhere, that although Clarke has passed, his words, ideas and dreams have not. So long as other generations of young boys read his works, they'll be living words and ideas. Maybe those boys will build space elevators and interstellar ships.

Mac wrote:

Aren't we a maudlin bunch?

Nah, we're just in mourning right now. It will pass, and the Giant's ideas will indeed burn brightly for many years.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 18, 2008 4:59 PM.

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