Arthur C. Clarke, arguably the greatest futurist and space sci-fi novelist of our times, never went out of the earth’s atmosphere. But he did arrange for some DNA from his hair to be sent into orbit.
Prevented from space exploration by an injury sustained from a crippling two months of a polio related disease, Clarke set up a dive shop in the southern shores of Sri Lanka because diving ‘it’s the closest thing that comes to the weightlessness of outer space’ and according to Mr. Clarke, he was ‘fully functional underwater’.
The dive shop was destroyed in the 2004 tsunami, but Arthur never let go of his dream. A true visionary, he contributed more to space study and I am sure explored the wonders of the terrestria much more enjoyably from his home in Sri Lanka than he ever could have being an astronaut.
Born in 1917 to a postal engineer turned farmer, ACC got hooked on science fiction when he was 11. An a few years later started writing his own. He is noted for several predictions concerning the advancement of science and the best and most noted so far is his idea of the triangulation of the earth by 3 satellites providing seamless communication throughout the planet. Some 50 years after his prediction, the first of these satellites ‘Early Bird’ was launched and the geostationary (remaining stationary in relation to Earth) orbit is nor known as the Clarke Orbit.
He envisioned the ‘space elevator’ to be a much easier and cheaper way of traveling to outer space and said that they would invent it ’50 years after everyone stopped laughing’
But the reason that science fiction fans all over the world liked and admired him was because of his ability to transport you into a world of futurism, where nothing is impossible and the enterprising spirit of the human race is glorified in its achievements.
Be it from the mystery and awe of 2001: A space Odyssey, the majesty and scope of Rendezvous with Rama, the intrigue of Childhoods’ End, Hammer of God etc, etc. Clarke’s novels show you the rational in the seemingly irrational, the possibilities at a dead end and the infinite reach of possibility while all the while basing you in the reality that you are in. They are a journey that will transform your very soul.
He freed our wings of imagination and broadened our horizons teaching us that accepting the impossible is only one step away from experiencing it.
His last wishes, as expressed by him in a video recorded for his 90th birthday were for mankind to discover extra terrestrial life, the world to adopt clean energy sources, and for a solution to be found for the Sri Lankan civil war.
So Mr. Clarke, as you join the ranks of the dead, Let me thank you for all the wonderful times spent reading your words, for all those journeys into far off universes, encounters with advanced alien civilizations and insight into the possibilities of the future. May Allah have mercy on your soul.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s latest novel ‘The Last Theorem’ is due to be published in a few months – the Arthur C. Clarke foundation.