A Remembrance of Arthur C. Clarke

By March 20, 2008Culture and Entertainment

Just a guess, but the percentage of science fiction readers — and especially hard science fiction — is probably higher in the manufacturing sector than the general economy.

So a tribute to Arthur C. Clarke, who has died at the age of 90, is certainly well-placed, especially given his technological prescience. From John J. Miller in today’s Wall Street Journal, “The Master of Science and Mysticism.”

Among science-fiction buffs, he is routinely hailed as one of the postwar era’s “Big Three,” along with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein.

There’s an asteroid named for Asimov and a Martian crater on Mars for Heinlein — each one a tribute to an author who inspired countless readers with fantastic yarns about rockets and aliens. Clarke shared their literary accomplishment (there’s an asteroid named after him as well), but unlike Asimov and Heinlein his earliest achievements were in science rather than fiction.

In 1945, a dozen years before the launch of Sputnik, he published an article observing that artificial satellites in geosynchronous orbit could transform global communications. Today, a satellite that sits in a fixed position over the Earth is sometimes said to be in a Clarke Orbit. Its namesake had to spend much of the rest of his life listening to people say he should have patented the idea when he had the chance.

More tributes here. And here’s the text of his short story, “900 Billion Names of God.”

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