My God, the obits today are full of stars. Celebrated author and science-fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke died today at his Sri Lanka home from apparent breathing problems. He was 90.
For the literary and film communities, Clarke’s death is a sad occasion. In novels like “Rendezvous with Rama,” “Childhood’s End,” and, especially, “2001: A Space Odyssey” (which he co-wrote with director Stanley Kubrick), Clarke found ways to elevate the genre - to transcend its pulp origins from trade-stand paperbacks to literary works of art. His novels were about aliens, yes, and mysterious visitors or inscrutable monoliths, but they were always more about the mystery inside than they were about the mysteries outside. He wrote of transformation and renewal, of evolutionary progress in the face of inhumanity. And he will be missed.
“Someone asked me, how would I like to be remembered,” he said in a 90th birthday address last December. “I want to be remembered most as a writer, one who entertained readers and hopefully stretched their imaginations as well.”
In the same video, he ends with a quote from Rudyard Kipling:
“And for that little, little span/The dead are borne in mind/ Seek not to question other than/ The books I leave behind.”
For those books, Mr. Clarke, we thank you.