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A Star Has Fallen

Arthur C. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka.

Clarke was one of the the all time greats, and his books will be remembered for as long as people still read science fiction. These days he is best known to the general public for his role in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and for his RAMA series... but to my mind his masterpiece is CHILDHOOD'S END, one of the best SF novels ever written, and a true mind-blower when it was first published. Many of his other early novels deserve to be rediscovered as well, especially AGAINST THE FALL OF NIGHT (later revised as THE CITY AND THE STARS, but I prefer the original version, partly because it has such a spectacularly great title) and THE DEEP. He wrote some stunning short stories as well, including "The Star" and "The Nine Billion Names of God." His TALES FROM THE WHITE HART stories were fun too, in a lighter vein. Clarke lived in Sri Lanka during most of my adult life, so I was never able to sit down and have a beer with him at a convention, alas... but I felt I knew him all the same, from his writing. I think that was true for a lot of us.

A fine writer and a good man. He'll be missed.


( 53 comments — Leave a comment )
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Mar. 18th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
My condolences.
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:46 pm (UTC)
very very sad.... tis a rough year for scifi and fantasy authors
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC)
Re: wow......
I think rough might be an understatement, and I'd start the "year" in 2007 with the death of Vonnegut.
Re: wow...... - sir_leonello - Mar. 18th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow...... - blackcoat - Mar. 19th, 2008 12:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow...... - werthead - Mar. 19th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow...... - sir_leonello - Mar. 19th, 2008 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow...... - atlasimpure - Mar. 19th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow...... - firerosearien - Mar. 19th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)

I can't believe it...

Mar. 18th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
"Look," whispered Chuck, and George lifted his eyes to heaven. (There is always a last time for everything.)

Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.

It's hard to imagine what SF would have been like without ACC.
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:55 pm (UTC)
Agreed, CHILDHOOD'S END is one of the absolute all-time great SF&F novels, as is RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA (sixteen years between volumes of a series...some ASoIaF fans should know when they're well off ;-) ). I also have a soft spot for 2010: ODYSSEY TWO (for the sheer mind-blowing scope of the ending), and A FALL OF MOONDUST is a great disaster story, although being rapidly outdated by scientific discovery.

Criminally, I have had a copy of THE DEEP RANGE on my shelf for over a decade and never read it. Maybe now is a good time to break it out.
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
The Deep Range has a different type of setting to most of Clarke's other books and a less epic plot than, say, The City and the Stars, but it is a good book from what I remember.
(no subject) - xraytheenforcer - Mar. 19th, 2008 01:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
Sad to hear.
Mar. 18th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
Per the terms of the Clarke-Asimov treaty, he was the second-greatest science writer of his day. He lived in the future right up until the end.
Mar. 19th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
two of my absolute favorite authors, and i loved that they had such a friendly competition.

as much as i have missed Isaac Asimov, i shall miss A.C. Clarke more.
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
His writing was powerful and evocative. He, and his pen, will indeed be missed.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
Songs From Distant Earth was pure SF pleasure to read. I concur.

Edited at 2008-03-19 02:06 am (UTC)
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
I absolutely love Childhood's End. I found it in a box of scifi someone had donated to my high school's used book sale (since my mom ran it, I got first pick of the books) and decided that it was Clarke so it ought to be worth a look; little did I know it would prove to be an incredible read that described a perspective on space travel radically different from the cheerful optimism common in scifi. I wasn't all that fond of Clarke's epistolary style in his later novels, so I liked the writing better as well.

I always thought it a great shame that he rewrote the intro after the launch of Sputnik. I thought the old one was better. On the other hand, they both contain one of my favorite lines of all time: "This was the moment when history held its breath, and the present sheared asunder from the past as an iceberg splits from its frozen, parent cliffs, and goes sailing out to sea in lonely pride."
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
He was a true master -- a great writer, and one of the greatest visionaries of any time. I am very sad that he is gone, but even that feeling is overwhelmed by sheer awe for all that he did. Farewell, Arthur -- you will not be forgotten. Actually, I suspect that your memory will persist for at least as long as our species.

(Also, I really need to read Against the Fall of Night. The City and the Stars is responsible for setting the course of my life in some not insignificant ways, and I can't believe that I haven't read its predecessor.)
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:17 am (UTC)
Childhood's End is a truly amazing novel, and one that I've always been surprised to find has a few rather vocal detractors. I don't get it, but to each their own. For me, in many ways it captured the grandness of the cosmos, and how truly miniscule we are in relation to it. I bought a copy of the book at a thrift shop when I was a teenager who read pretty much nothing but SF (mostly the classics of the genre), and that book was one of the reread novels I owned for a number of years.

Everyone who's enjoyed SF owes him a great debt of gratitude.

Mar. 19th, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
When I was 8, I tried to read the Dune books and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and ended up deciding that I hated sci-fi and high fantasy with a burning passion that was absolutely unequaled in my life. Then when I was 12, we had a sci-fi unit in class and I grudgingly picked up a collection of Arthur C Clarke's short stories to fullfill the assignment. By the end of the school year, I'd borrowed everything the library had thast he had written, and I still credit him with getting me into sci-fi and convincing me to give fantasy a second chance.

I can only hope his passing was peaceful, and that he knew just how many of us loved him for everything he did.
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
The last of the Great Trio is gone. Heinlein, Asimov, and now Clarke.

Mar. 19th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
That's sad to hear. I'm surprised my dad hasn't called me, in all honesty. Not to make light of the situation, mind you. He has always been a huge SF reader and it's because of him that I am. He's always been a fan of Clarke.

Sad loss for the literary world.
Mar. 19th, 2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Against the Fall of Night is probably my favorite of Clarke's. I think science fiction is at its best when it provides insight into the workings of society and that story does a remarkable job at examining the way cultures deal with the unknown.

Mar. 19th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
I heart The Star and 9 Billion Names of God. The latter still gives me chills when I read it.
Mar. 19th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)
Gosh, wow. Bad year for writers...
Mar. 19th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Growing up in the former USSR the only science fiction authors whose books were commonly found in the local libraries were those of I. Asimov, Robert Shekley, and Arthur Clarke. Their influence on my reading tastes and arguably my life could not be overstated. Today the world lost a giant of literature and pregressive thought. I feel as if I lost yet another part of my childhood. Fortunately, he left much of himself behind in his writing.
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
Alas, a great man has passed.

I began reading Clarke's novels when I was a sophomore in high school. Still have all of the 2001 and Rama series as well as Childhood's End and several others. I know he has many other books out there that I have yet to put my hands on and read. To this day, I believe Childhood's End is my favorite of his novels.
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:46 am (UTC)
One of the greats
I discovered Clarke's books when a friend loaned my his copy of 2010 on the way home from summer camp. Since then I've read the covers off of every book of his I could find...with the exception of CHILDHOOD'S END. That book is so incredible I can only read it once a year,it is the standard for science fiction. Clarke will be dearly missed.
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:27 am (UTC)
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:51 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for posting this.
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:14 am (UTC)
I know it will sound cliche, but I was reading Childhood's End at lunch today. The Overlords had just shown themselves to humanity...

I had not read it in years. It was absolutely wonderful in the true sense of the word.

A sad passing.
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
He was truly a light unto the world. Even in his strife ridden Sri Lanka he found small and not so small ways to help the people. Buying his books was not only consumption for pleasure but by extension, an act of philanthropy.
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:19 am (UTC)
So true.
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