RIP, Arthur C. Clarke

Via Charles Stross, who got it via AP, Arthur C. Clarke has died.

Too much to say about it — it’ll have to wait until I don’t have a splitting headache. But in short, we owe him for helping make some of the good parts of the world we live in.

Ad astra, sir.

Update: Clarke’s obit from the New York Times.

34 Comments on “RIP, Arthur C. Clarke”

  1. Aw, man! That’s most of the old time writers gone. There’s not many more left.

  2. Arthur Clarke was, to me, the most important of the big three of Heinlein, Azimov & Clarke. Whilst his death is unsurprising I still feel a sense of loss.
    His ideas, more than his writing, truly inspired me as a young reader.

  3. Clarke was the first science fiction writer I was a fan of. Rama, Childhood’s End, A Fall of Moondust, 2001. These are all books I can practically quote even though I probably haven’t rea any of them in decades. I even remember what the bookstore and display looked like when I discovered that he had written a sequel to 2001…This was before the internet and I just didn’t know about it until I saw it.

    He will be missed.

  4. Agreed. While his sf awed me, it was the idea that this sf writer worked out what it would mean to have satellites in geosynchronous orbit that drove my aspirations for years. He certainly leaves a void the will long be unfilled.

  5. Today the genre is diminished by one: a very curve-bending “one”. RIP, Sir Arthur.

    Randy @1:

    Of the “old time writers” (meaning those who started in the 1940’s or earlier) I can think of only one at the moment who is still with us: Frederik Pohl.

    Fred Pohl I don’t think has been active in terms of publishing for a few years, mostly because of age.

    I hope I’m not forgetting someone, and thereby rendering unintended insult but Fred Pohl may very well be the very last of the old-time great names.

  6. He is going to be missed. The science fiction and science community were enhanced greatly by his works and intelligence. I need to go and dug out one of my old books of his and re-read it.

  7. Pohl, Ray Bradbury and Harry Harrison are still around, and probably some others. There were, though, only a few SF writers who had fame in out-of-genre society as great as Clarke’s, and I think Bradbury may be the only one of that generation who is left.

  8. Ever since reading the headline, I’ve had the Blue Danube Waltz playing in my head.

    Someone once said that Clarke was such a good writer, he could make you feel sympathy for a giant star near the end of its life. For us, one of those stars has gone out. Rest in peace, Sir Arthur.

  9. Oh, damn. Sad news indeed. I remember my third grade teacher recommending Childhood’s End to me, in a margin note on a project I’d done for her class. It was the first time I’d heard of him. I’ll have to dig up my copy and give it a re-read.

  10. The walls of Valhalla are shaking.

    I’ll lift a drink in his honor this evening.

  11. duh…of course…HH & RB !

    Apparently Arthur C. Clarke & Fred Pohl had just finished a collaboration about six months ago…so there’s one more Clarke-ian book to be had (and another Fred Pohl book).

    For some reason I always think of Ray Bradbury as a 50’s talent. Not correct, of course, but there it is. And I keep thinking Harry Harrison is no longer with us — again I’m not sure why…maybe it’s his connection to the Futurians, who are all but are gone now.

    Childhood’s End
    Imperial Earth
    Rondezvous With Rama
    Sands of Mars
    The Songs of Distant Earth

    great stuff, to just pick a few titles that come easily to mind.

    I was just looking at my Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke the other day, and thinking about re-reading some of his classic short work…

  12. I picked up Childhood’s End in 6th grade because the cover looked cool. I read it but didn’t quite get it. I’ve read it several times since then and each time it turns out to show me something new I missed before.

    I owe a debt to him for broadening my horizons and making me think. We all owe him for being the father of the satellite.

    Thank you, sir. You will be missed.

  13. In an odd way, Clarke made me appreciate living on Earth. In many of his books, there’s a nostalgia for our home world, I think maybe Clarke’s ‘Earth that could be.’

    I always enjoyed his faith in the overall good in humanity.

    “Rescue Party” is one of my favorite stories, ever.

  14. I thought his short stories were even more powerful than his novels. I don’t think I’ve read “The Star” or “The Nine Billion Names of God” in 25 years, but I still remember them clearly.


  15. I don’t often double-post comments, and I just sent this to Charles Stross’s blog. However, on the chance that his is more UK-centric in readership and Whatever is more US-sentric, I hope that this iteration is okay.

    I have a number of personal anecdotes about Sir Arthur C. Clarke, from meetings that we’d had in New York and California, but this is not the time nor place for them.

    Suffice it to say that he was one of people who shaped both my literary and scientific careers, and with whom I was honored to be professionally associated.

    I was the least of the coeditors of Project Solar Sail [ed. David Brin, Arthur C. Clarke, and Jonathan Vos Post, New American Library (Penguin USA), 1990] paperback ISBN 0451450027, $4.50.

    I wrote the preface to a published collection of the snail-mail correspondence between Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Lord Dunsany.

    I had a standing invitation to visit him any time that I was in Sri Lanka. I shall always be sad that I never had the chance to accept this invitation. But that is more than compensated by the thrill of being at least an acquaintance of his.

    What a pity that he was short-listed for the Nobel Peace Prize, but did not live long enough to receive it. He was clearly more deserving than some who did win that prize, but, after all, that’s Politics.

  16. To the man who brought me a new world and a new understanding of “Blue Danube”, You will be missed.

    His books were my friends in High school and got me through some difficult times. I will treasure every one of my well worn, but much loved jewels.

  17. I read the NY Times obit. It contains a really bad spoiler of Childhood’s End. One of the things I loved about that book is the uncertainty throughout, the mystery. The ending was not shocking but unexpected. For a first read, one should NOT know the ending. My husband has not yet read that book, but if he has read the obit I will suggest he wait a year or so before reading it (to forget the spoilers). Okay, end rant.

    So long Sir Clarke. I think of you whenever someone claims something is magic.

  18. The thing that gives me hope is that he inspired so many people – like Gene Roddenberry did – who view the future as a place where anything we can think of is possible. His legacy is shaping both science and science fiction. Hopefully, we will continue to experience that influence for a long time.

  19. #10 Matt Irvin:

    According to the RASFW FAQ from 27 Jan 2008:

    15. Oldest Living SF Authors

    The major ones over the age of eighty-five are:

    David Kyle, 1912
    Ernest Hill, 1915
    Jack Vance, 28 AUG 1916
    Arthur C. Clarke, 16 DEC 1917
    Philip Jose Farmer, 26 JAN 1918
    E. C. Tubb, 15 OCT 1919
    Frederik Pohl, 26 NOV 1919
    Ray Bradbury, 22 AUG 1920
    A more complete list can be found at

  20. I discovered science fiction when I was in high school, and Clarke, along with Asimov and Robert Heinlein helped keep me sane when my home life was driving me insane. They also fueled my love of science in general and astronomy in specific.

    Rest in peace, Sir Arthur. Your impact on the world will long be felt.

  21. If I may paraphrase one of your characters, John?

    I hope you can see the stars where you’re going, Arthur.

  22. I wrote about him yesterday in my blog. I’ve not read much of his work, but my earliest science fiction reading included a short story that stayed with me for 30 years: History Lesson. The little I’ve read since has moved me immensely.

    As I wrote yesterday: RIP, Sir Arthur. I’m sure that the mysteries of Clavius are just the beginning.

  23. To slightly expand on #28 (with birthdays for Kyle and Hill) and correct (full URL, more inclusive for those with at least one novel and/or are at least 90) and cutting off after the immortal Ray Bradbury:

    Oldest Living SF Authors

    The major ones (who are shown with *) and some of the oldest minor ones over the age of eighty-five are:

    Pierre Bessand-Massenet, wrote: Magie Rose [1955, a.k.a. Amorous Ghost, 1957], 1899

    Catherine Christian, 3 Fantasy novels, 1901

    David Kilpatrick Findlay, 3 stories, 1901

    O. Muiriel Fuller, Best known for Book of Dragons : Tales and Legends from Many Lands, 1901

    Noah Daniel Fabricant, co-anthologist with Groff Conklin, 1904

    Francis Leslie Ashton, 3 novels, 1904

    Henry A. Norton, 3 novels, 1906

    Meir Selig Gillon, The Unsleep (1961) with Diana Gillon, 1907

    * Hortense Calisher, major mainstream novelist at least 2 of whose books are clearly Science Fiction (Journal From Ellipsia [1965], Mysteries of Motion [1983]), past president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of PEN, the worldwide association of writers, she has been a National Book Award finalist three times and has won an O. Henry Award (for “The Night Club in the Woods”) and the 1986 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize (for The Bobby Soxer) as well as being awarded Guggenheim Fellowships in 1952 and 1955 [2]. She lives in New York City. 20 December 1911

    * David Kyle, 14 Feb 1912

    Wilfred P. Cockcroft, (6 novels as W. P. Cockroft), 1913

    Stuart James Byrne, 4 novels (2 as by John Bloodstone), 26 October 1913

    Ralph Robin, 12 novels, 1914

    Leslie J. Johnson, 2 novels coauthored with Eric Frank Russell, 1914

    Kevin McCarthy, 2 novels, 15 February 1914

    Frank King Kelly, Star Ship Invincible [1979], 12 June 1914

    * Martin Gardner, Major writer included here for The Annotated Alice [various editions], Visitors from Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman [1998], The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton’s Masterpiece, the Man Who Was Thursday [1999] with G. K. Chesterton, The No-Sided Professor, and other tales of fantasy, humor, mystery, and philosophy [1987]

    Diana Pleasance Gillon, see coauthor Meir Selig Gillon, 1915

    * Herman Wouk, major writer best known for mainstream blockbusters such as The Caine Mutiny, The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance; whose only explicit Science Fiction novel (The Lomokome Papers [1956]) is detested by many SF fans; but with whom I’ve discussed Science Fiction in some depth; coincidently his brother Victor was the man who interviewed me for admission to Caltech, for which I’ve thanked him repeatedly, 27 May 1915

    * Ernest Hill, 3 novels and one omnibus with R. A. Lafferty, 14 July 1915

    * Jack Vance, 28 Aug 1916

    Herb Livingston, roughly 40 short fictions as by H. B. Hickey, mostly in Amazing Stories, 1916

    John Alfred Atkins, 2 novels, 26 May 1916

    Mary Stewart, Historical and Fantasy novelist, 12 September 1916

    Harry Blamires, Anglican theologian, literary critic, and novelist, protege of C. S. Lewis, 3 novels, 6 November 1916

    * Forrest James Ackerman, world’s #1 Fan, coined term “sci-fi”, many SF works edited, 24 November 1916

    Stanley Bennett Hough, several novels some as by Rex Gordon, 25 February 1917

    Eugenia Geneva Sutton, 6 novels as by Jean Sutton coauthored with Jeff Sutton, 5 July 1917

    * George Robert Acworth Conquest, major editor, anthologist, critic, poet, with at least one SF novel (A World of Difference [1955]), 15 July 1917

    Carol Kendall, 3 novels, 13 September 1917

    * Arthur C. Clarke, 16 Dec 1917

    * Philip Jose Farmer, 26 Jan 1918

    * Walter Sullivan, renowned science writer of The New York Times, especially on the space program, 3 SF or related books (White Land of Adventure [1957], Quest for a Continent [1957], We Are Not Alone [1964]), 1918

    Wallace Macfarlane, 31 short fictions, no known novels, 1918

    * Martin Greenberg, publisher and editor of science fiction anthologies, NOT to be confused with Martin H. Greenberg, 1918

    Douglas Rankine Mason, best known for many novels as John Rankine, also wrote TV novels in the Space 1999 universe, friend of Anthony Burgess, 26 September 1918

    John Zacherle, sometimes credited as John Zacherley), U.S. television host and voice actor known for his long career as a television horror host broadcasting horror movies in Philadelphia and New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. Best known for his character “Roland/Zacherley”, he also did voice work for movies, and recorded the top ten song novelty rock and roll song “Dinner With Drac” in 1958. He also edited two collections of horror stories, Zacherley’s Vulture Stew and Zacherley’s Midnight Snacks. 26 September 1918

    * Boyd Bradfield Upchurch, 13 novels (some great) as by John Boyd, retired and married to the principal of a school in sotuhern California some of whose friends I know but don’t appreciate his literary merit, 3 October 1919

    * E. C. Tubb, 15 Oct 1919

    * Doris Lessing, Nobel Laureate, even though her Science Fiction annoys many SF fans, desrves place on list as major novelist who takes SF themes including empire and ecology very seriously, 22 Oct 1919

    * Frederik Pohl, 26 Nov 1919

    * The Baroness Phyllis Dorothy James, writes as P. D. James, major Mystery novelist, belongs on this list even though her major SF novel (The Children of Men [1992]) very badly reinvents the wheel, and was much improved by film adaptation, 3 August 1920

    * Ray Bradbury, 22 Aug 1920

    A more complete list can be found at

    That list begins with artist Andrew Brosnatch, who is shown as 112!

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