Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Arthur C cark

Legendary science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke died in Sri Lanka yesterday, aged 90.

As a writer I would say Clarke was more of a source of ideas than a great writer in the literary sense - the most obvious and famous example of this being the (loose) adaptation of his short story The Sentinel into Stanley Kubrick's seminal film 2001: A Space Odyssey. That said I can't say I've read a huge amount of his stuff - I think the only book of his I actually own is the short early novel Earthlight.

But he was very influential, and a man of clear-thinking good sense and scepticism:

I would like to assure my many Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim friends that I am sincerely happy that the religion which Chance has given you has contributed to your peace of mind (and often, as Western medical science now reluctantly admits, to your physical well-being). Perhaps it is better to be un-sane and happy, than sane and un-happy. But it is the best of all to be sane and happy. Whether our descendants can achieve that goal will be the greatest challenge of the future. Indeed, it may well decide whether we have any future.
This is further demonstrated by his firm instructions for his funeral arrangements. I am reminded of Woody Allen's quote about death at this point as well:

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don't want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.
My instructions for my own funeral arrangements can be found in this earlier post.

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