The last of the big three of science fiction died yesterday. Like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein before him, Arthur C. Clarke shuffled off this mortal coil after 90 years.
I read many of Clarke's books in high school and college. Like many young boys, I started off with Heinlein in elementary and middle school. Next was Asimov. And finally, Clarke.
Clarke's "Childhood's End" was the first book that I ever read that, after finishing it, left me with the literary equivalent of the heebie-jeebies. I loved "Rendezvous with Rama," "2001," "2010," and "2061." The last book of Clarke's I read was "The Trigger" which was co-authoredwith Michael Kube-McDowell. Clarke got some flak from some reviewers for going political with that book, but I found it an interesting thought exercise of what the world would look like if, suddenly, explosives-based technology became obsolete. (No guns, no mortars, no missiles, etc.) A military re-trained to use swords, quarterstaffs and bows and arrows was unexpected to say the least.
Clarke's contributions to science, sans fiction, I did not learn of until I was working as a reporter at the Lompoc Record. There, in 1995, I received a copy of Clarke's 1945 article detailing an idea for geosynchronous telecommunications satellites from a local reader and was encouraged to do an article marking the 50 years since. Sadly, that wasn't the sort of thing that one could do at a small paper focused on local news. Yes, I covered Vandenberg AFB and the space program, but the satellites launched from Vandenberg went into polar orbit, not geosynchronus. I didn't write an article, but I had a newfound respect for that old guy whose books I had read in high school.
Clarke will be missed.