arthur c. clarke, childhood’s final end

My all-time favourite science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke, has just died. He of course is best known for 2001: A Space Odyssey but his prediction of geosynchronous telecommunications satellites made him a futurist of unparalleled proportion. His three laws are timeless lessons in the art of science:

¶“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.”

I was deeply influenced by Childhood’s End and Against the Fall of Night and it led to my love of science (and my reading of every one of his books). His book Imperial Earth, predicted mobile computing devices while all the other sf writers continued to write about centralized computing. His later books, particularly the co-written works, never possessed the creative energy of his earliest works. But even those held predictive power (His book with Stephen Baxter created a strange but compelling portrait of an earth bereft of privacy). This is a sad day for me and for sf.

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