Arthur C. Clarke

AuthorTopic: Arthur C. Clarke
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Clarke was a pretty awesome author. His arguably most famous work, 2001: Space Odyssey is so classic that quotes like "I'm sorry, Dave" and "it's full of stars!" have long entered our meme culture. He explored the concept of technological singularity and first contact pretty deeply.

And he died around three hours ago. Much like Asimov, this is a guy whose like we won't see again soon.

Edit: In fact, thanks to time zones and from the perspective of Europeans and Americans, he pulled off something pretty astonishing. As is only fitting for a science fiction author, he died tomorrow.

[ Tuesday, March 18, 2008 14:46: Message edited by: Arancaytar ]

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The last of the "Big Three," and easily the one whose work I enjoyed the most. The Rama series, Trigger, Cradle, Time's Eye: (And the sequels that are out now, which I'd neglected to read but am now reminded of) all great stuff.

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Who is the third?

(On the assumption that any triad of science fiction authors will contain Asimov.)

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Did-chat thentagoespyet jumund fori is jus, hat onlime gly nertan ne gethen Firyoubbit 'obio.'
Decorum deserves a whole line of my signature, and an entry in your bookmarks.
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Never read the book or seen the film, but my father (whose name is Dave) had an error warning set for his PowerMac saying "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." However, in repetition, it caused the computer to freeze.

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The third of the Big Three is Robert A. Heinlein.

—Alorael, who has only two thoughts. The first is that the era of "it's not good to write SF/F right now" isn't over. The second is that the other Big Two created words that entered dictionaries and common parlance (robotics, grok, waldo). What's Clarke's word? His concept, of course, is the geostationary satellite.
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Clarke had the distinction of seeing some modern technologies to otherwise unforseeable and sometimes accurate ends. Though offhand the only item that I remember him predicting the invention of was the (kitchen) microwave, many of his speculations may logically inspire technological developments down the road: His ideas for comfortably dealing with weightlessness through elastic blankets and adhesive salad dressing, for example.

And, of course, HAL is definitely one of the better characters that has been ingrained into our social consciousness.

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The Silent Assassin would like to attribute inspiration to Mr. Clarke, but for the difficulty in finding some of the materials Clarke specifies in his novels.
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Posts: 735 | Registered: Monday, January 16 2006 08:00
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quote:
His ideas for comfortably dealing with weightlessness through elastic blankets and adhesive salad dressing, for example.
That sentence brings to mind Douglas Adams. :P Incidentally, my dream is that psychohistory some day gains the same usage that robotics got.
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quote:
Originally written by Journey On:

The first is that the era of "it's not good to write SF/F right now" isn't over.
I've noticed this, and I wonder if in part it's due to the fact that sufficiently sophisticated technology exists currently such that any science fiction/futurism concepts can be debunked pretty easily. I.e., the bar is much higher in order to create "believable" science fiction, to the point that it would probably take someone with an engineering degree and a lot of love to write something credible.
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Engineering? Once an idea gets sufficiently realistic for engineers to figure out how to actually build it, it's more or less left the stage of science fiction. SF deals with a lot of ideas that have not been proven impossible in theory, but are far removed from being practical yet.

And I'd say that Wikipedia and a healthy interest in science are enough to avoid the most glaring mistakes there. The most important part of writing believable science fiction is still the attitude of actually caring about making sense. An author doesn't need to find technologies that have been proven possible - basically he just needs to take an idea and find out if it violates the second law of thermodynamics or requires faster-than-light movement, and perhaps a few other basic checks. That weeds out the obvious nonsense.

Or as Clarke put it: "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."
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I've read all 4 of his "odyssey" books, and enjoyed them. Actually, I think I might've read the first three in reverse order (oops!).

quote:
Originally written by Excalibur:

Never read the book or seen the film, but my father (whose name is Dave) had an error warning set for his PowerMac saying "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." However, in repetition, it caused the computer to freeze.
As HAL 9000 put it: It can only be attributable to human error.

I couldn't resist that quote.

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I've always taken SF/F to stand for Sci-fi/fantasy. You know, that lumped genre that gets shelved together. Also, while that may be true, I think this is actually a very good time to produce fantasy and soft sci-fi. Hard sci-fi seems a little stale these days, but it's still made. What I actually meant is that it's a bad time to be an author. Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, and now Arthur C. Clarke. And I'm pretty sure there was another important death in there too.

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Actually, Terry Pratchett is enjoying remarkably good health for a dead man. I mean, yeah he has early onset Alzheimer's, but he's not yet been visited by Death.

Addit - Could fans of Clarke recommend a few of his books, and why they are being recommended? I've never read his stuff, and we're due for another trip to Powell's bookstore soon.

[ Thursday, March 20, 2008 17:50: Message edited by: Jumpin' Salmon ]

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Clarke was a visionary for his time. I enjoyed his works greatly and he will be missed.

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quote:
Originally written by Moving Pieces:

I've always taken SF/F to stand for Sci-fi/fantasy. You know, that lumped genre that gets shelved together. Also, while that may be true, I think this is actually a very good time to produce fantasy and soft sci-fi. Hard sci-fi seems a little stale these days, but it's still made. What I actually meant is that it's a bad time to be an author. Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, and now Arthur C. Clarke. And I'm pretty sure there was another important death in there too.
My bad for misinterpreting - I thought you intended "SF/F" to stand for "Science Fiction/Futurism." I do think there's a lot of dross out there though, for the reason I posited. Fantasy is a bit easier to get away with, since apparently there's no such thing as magic. I do think the genre has been awaiting the Next Great Thing for a while though.

[ Monday, March 24, 2008 04:34: Message edited by: Drew ]
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Arthur C Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Robert A Heinlien, Larry Niven, Robert L Forward. Greg Bear, Orson Scott Card, gosh, where do you draw a line?

Not to mention Steven R Donaldson, and J.R.R. Tolkien...

Impossible for me to make a shortlist.

Didn't know till I saw it here that Clarke had passed.

Now he sees what we've yet to perceive.

Thanks for all the wonder and time well spent Sir Clarke.

[ Sunday, March 23, 2008 19:20: Message edited by: Micro Phage ]

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Posts: 181 | Registered: Monday, June 12 2006 07:00
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I have to re-read the Odyssey and Rama series again, those are my favourites of his.

I also liked "The City and the Stars"...

He was/is a wonderful author and I will miss his writing.

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Just stumbled across this thread. Arthur C. "Mr. Satellite" Clarke is also famous for the concept of a space elevator which would allow easy transport from planet surface to a space station in geostationary orbit. That may yet come to be!

At one point in my youth, he was my favorite author. Rendezvous with Rama, from the early '70s, is a good first exposure to his work. He's not much for character development. Rama does combine the thrill of early space exploration with a solid mystery.

Childhood's End, 2001 and 2010 are all worth a read for anyone with any interest in sf. Only the latter two have been made into films.

Clarke was a strong believer that man's destiny was somewhere beyond the Earth. The Joy of Tech comic has a fitting tribute, here:

HAL Mourns
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