Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke Has Died

Frankly, I'm quite depressed at having to write about the death of yet another childhood hero so soon after the death of Gary Gygax. Arthur C. Clarke, prolific sci-fi author and futurist, passed away today. At 90, this was less of a blow than Gygax's untimely departure, but it is still a tragic loss.

Clarke and Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey" was a major influence, one that inspired me both in my work in computing and artificial intelligence, and my work in filmmaking. I read a number of Clarke's books in my youth, and works like Childhood's End, Rendezvous With Rama, and The Songs Of Distant Earth influenced me greatly. His idea for geosynchronous satellites, published in a 1945 issue of Wireless World, has influenced all of global society greatly. Clarke's works were integral in helping to form my life as a philosopher, a gamer (and game developer), a writer, and an engineer. With Clarke's passing, an era of Sci-Fi comes a giant step closer to closure. Not many of his generation remain, and with them will pass a less cynical era of Sci-Fi than much of contemporary fare. Sure, I also enjoy cynical cyberpunk material as well, but writers like Clarke had takes on our future -- with an interesting mix of both positive and negative possibilities -- that are still worth contemplating.

Clarke, through 2001 in particular, was hugely influential on Sci-Fi in popular culture. Generations of filmmakers, writers, and video game designers all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Clarke (and Kubrick) for bringing cerebral Sci-Fi to a mass market. Rubber Monsters and Rayguns schlock may be fun, but Clarke and his contemporaries helped open doors for a more intelligent kind of Sci-Fi. Anyone working in AI, telecommunications, general computing, video games, and sci-fi filmmaking, comics or writing should take a moment to give thanks to Arthur C. Clarke for all he has done for the world.


Seth Hanisek said...

Amen, brother.

Aaron Auerbach said...

gone but not forgotten