Sunday, 26 March 2017

Arthur C Clarke, Prophet of the Space Age


Arthur Charles Clarke (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction writer, science writer and futurist, inventor, undersea explorer, and television series host. Clarke authored nearly 100 books, and many of his ideas around science had links to future technological innovations.



Background

Born and raised in Somerset, Arthur came to London in the late 1930s to work as a pensions auditor for the Board of Education, but space travel was already his chief enthusiasm. In 1934, while still a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society. In 1945, he proposed a satellite communication system, an idea which won him the Franklin Institute's Stuart Ballantine Medal in 1963, and other honours. Later he was the chairman of the British Interplanetary Society from 1946–47 and again in 1951–53.

Clarke was a science writer, who was both an avid populariser of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability. On these subjects he wrote over a dozen books and many essays, which appeared in various popular magazines.

Science Fiction

He grew up reading all the science fiction he could find, most of it in US pulp magazines, though H G Wells and Olaf Stapledon (the author of the epic Last and First Men) remained his chief influences. He contributed frequently to the pre-war science fiction fanzines, co-editing Novae Terrae (“new worlds”) in its original form.

His science fiction writings earned him a number of Hugo and Nebula awards, which along with a large readership made him one of the towering figures of science fiction. For many years Clarke, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov were known as the "Big Three" of science fiction. He is perhaps most famous for being co-writer of the screenplay for the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, widely considered to be one of the most influential films of all time.

Sri Lanka

Clarke emigrated from England to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) in 1956, largely to pursue his interest in scuba diving. That year he discovered the underwater ruins of the ancient Koneswaram temple in Trincomalee. Clarke augmented his fame later on in the 1980s, from being the host of several television shows such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World. He lived in Sri Lanka until his death. He was knighted in 1998 and was awarded Sri Lanka's highest civil honour, Sri Lankabhimanya (The Pride of Sri Lanka), in 2005.

Legacy

He is considered the doyen of optimistic, technical, Space Age speculative writers, believing our species’ salvation to lie entirely in scientific discovery and engineering invention, his fiction full of detailed explication, sometimes virtually indistinguishable from fact.

Arthur C. Clarke’s legacy bridges the worlds of the arts and the sciences. His work ranged from scientific discovery to science fiction, from technical application to entertainment. As an engineer, as a futurist, and as a humanist, Clarke has influenced numerous artists, scientists, and engineers working today, and through his broad body of work, and through the organizations keeping his legacy alive like the Clarke Foundation and this Institute, he continues to inspire future generations around the world.

I’m sometimes asked how I would like to be remembered. I’ve had a diverse career
as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser. Of all these, I
want to be remembered most as a writer — one who entertained readers, and, hopefully,
stretched their imagination as well.
—Arthur C. Clarke

[adapted from Clarke Foundation and Biography websites, and Wikipedia]



Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz

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