Monday, April 7, 2008

Arthur C Clarke

The greatest "engineer" of fiction is dead. Perhaps I was late to write a tribute, but the man who died is worthy being remembered at any time.

Of all the fictions from fairy tale to Hollywood cinema, I never found better constructed ones than that of ACC (Arthur C Clarke). His fictions may not have tenderness, love, or other human feelings. But the gigantic technological achievements he designed were so well constructed even beyond the details of some engineering project proposals. And they were so accurate to every grain of elementary science.

He did not write about jumping through a worm hole or travel through time with your college friends for an evening out. Every such scientific construction had a high precision detail and the actual weight and calamity of the event.

My taste in his work has made me feeling disgusted when I see the rest of the hype that we call scifi today.

Unfortunately he failed to take the lift to the space hotel to celebrate his 100th birthday - the lift which he designed so well, that the fiction itself is a blueprint for the task one day. 

This one man had more influence than most of my own teachers to tread in the path which brought me where I am. In an outback village with no taste of the utopia that we dwell today, this man's writing made me known more of NASA than many Sri Lankan govt offices and gave me that dream of joining NASA one day, of which I got much of inspiration and planned ahead in the path. It is immaterial that I never lived up to that dream, and joining NASA does not seem as galactic as how I saw it then. But that motivation was immense in my life.

And more over, his writing (translated by Mr S M Banduseela) inspired my life long ambition to be a writer. That inspiration is still intact, pity I lack even a fraction of the talent of his.

An extract from following site suggests how gigantic Clarke sat on the foundations of space exploration.
[Source: Clarke Obituary]
Planetary scientist Torrence Johnson said Clarke's work was a major influence on many in the field.
Johnson, who has been exploring the solar system through the Voyager, Galileo and Cassini missions in his 35 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, recalled a meeting of planetary scientists and rocket engineers where talk turned to the author.
"All of us around the table said we read Arthur C. Clarke," Johnson said. "That was the thing that got us there."

I'm sure that world will remember him many times in many millennia whenever they realise a dream of ACC or face a catastrophe which ACC has warned of (and attempted to solve by means of a well constructed fiction).

There is no point to wish him a rest in peace or nibbana or some sort. The man had no religious views although religion was perhaps the second most spoken topic in all his fictions. And he once stated (in a preface) that religion is such a sweet craze in human mind.

Let me wish, may all his dreams come true one day. And those dreams are what he has already attained immortality for.


  1. I'm an ardent fan of ACC's fiction (as you might already be aware). And I just loved "The fountains of Paradise". But recently I read somewhere that the idea of the space elevator was put forward by someone else before ACC. Did you know that?

    1. bims, I know I am gonna break a world record for the longest time taken for a comment reply. 7 bloody years!!! And wonder whether you'll ever read this. But let me [still] make the record straight.

      it was suggested by Tsiolkovsky himself. But there is another Russian who provided a true project proposal which was quite similar to Clarke's idea. In fact it was stated in teh fiction if my mem is right. Yuri ... whoever.