Sir Arthur C. Clarke 1917-2008

Science fiction writer, futurist and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died in hospital in Sri Lanka today.  Already, a number of tributes have been paid to him by fellow writers, politicians and scientists.  Sir Arthur, who turned 90 just a few weeks ago, passed away at the Apollo hospital, he had been in and out of hospital for several weeks suffering from breathing difficulties.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Born in Minehead, Kent, Sir Arthur made Sri Lanka his adopted home in 1956, he was knighted in 1998.  Clarke, who in 1945 predicted the creation of communication satellites, wrote more than 80 books. He was Sri Lanka’s best-known resident guest and has a scientific academy named after him, as well as an asteroid and a joint European/Russian satellite.

British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who had worked with Clarke on several writing projects, paid tribute to his “dear friend” and said his death was a “great loss.”

“He was ahead of his time in so many ways,” Moore told the BBC. “Quite apart from artificial satellites there were other things too. A great science fiction writer, a very good scientist, a great prophet and a very dear friend, I’m very, very sad that he’s gone.”

“2001: A Space Odyssey”

Sir Arthur was perhaps best known for his work on the Stanley Kubrick film “2001: A Space Odyssey”.  The story was loosely based on and developed by Sir Arthur and Stanley Kubrick from Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’, first printed in 1951.

A quotation attributed to Stanley Kubrick on the release of the film helps to sum up the life and times of Sir Arthur:

“He (Sir Arthur) has the kind of mind of which the world can never have enough, an array of imagination, intelligence, knowledge and a quirkish curiosity, which often uncovers more than the first three qualities.”

Source: Fiona Harrison/Associated Press

Sir Arthur worked on a ground breaking television series in the early 1980s.  It was called “Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World”.  This thirteen part series covered the paranormal and explored strange mysterious such as UFOs, monsters of the deep, apeman and other phenomenon.  In one of the later episodes (episode 11), entitled “Dragons, Dinosaurs and Giant Snakes” – Sir Arthur explored the then, current myths and stories about unknown animals lurking in explored parts of the world.

Exploring Myths and Legends

Each programme was written in a documentary style with an introduction and conclusion filmed with the great man from his residence in Sri Lanka.  An earlier episode had focused on the strange stories from around the world of lake monsters such as Nessie and Champ.  A book was published in 1981 to accompany the series.

To read more about Sir Arthur: Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 90th Birthday.

Sir Arthur’s enquiring mind and curiosity was an inspiration to many scientists and writers, he will be sadly missed, perhaps it is fitting to finish with a brief quotation from the man himself, it pointedly sums up why many people are inspired to become palaeontologists:

“The truth as always will be far stranger”.