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Arthur C. Clarke: Luminaries Pay Tribute (Continued)

Science Fiction Writer Arthur C. Clarke Dies at Age of 90
Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. (Image credit: AP Photo.)

Editor'snote: SPACE.comreceived an overwhelming response to the passing of Arthur C. Clarke; below are more reactions from scientists, writers and other luminaries.Clickhere to return to the original story.

JackMcDevitt, author of"Cauldron":

"Thoseof us who started reading [science fiction] in the fifties remember ArthurClarke for the sense of wonder that lent a special perspective to hisnarratives. His passion for the majesty of the universe put us on the bridge ofa starship which most of us have never left. He possessed an unrelentingoptimism in the future, a conviction that the human race would ultimately dofine. And perhaps even more important, that we were worth saving. We had himwith us for 90 years. It's about as much as we could ask."

KimStanley Robinson,author of the Mars trilogy:

"Hewas one of the great ones, a kind of founder of modern science fiction. Thething that really I love about Clarke is that his vision was positive, of humanityspreading out into space, being egalitarian and justice progressing. Technologywas just one part of the picture, but compassion and justice were as well. He alsohad a beautiful writing style that was formulated out of the King James Bible,and it gave his prose a sense of majesty that is not all that common in modernfiction. He made the future seem positive and exciting, he made space seemaccessible — that there was a bigger world than just our petty concerns of themoment."

"WhatI think is exceptional about Clarke as a person is that he really enjoyed hislife. He called me on my birthday once and we talked a lot about Mars, and thiswas a beautiful birthday present for me. He was a really cheery guy, and heenjoyed what he did."

MargaretTurnbull,astrobiologist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD:

"I?msitting here in my office and I have one shelf dedicated to science fiction,and Arthur C. Clarke fills up most of that shelf. My favorite of his books is 'Childhood?sEnd.'? To me that story brings out the idea that we are still in the process ofevolution ourselves, we haven?t reached the end stage, we are continuing todevelop and evolve mentally as well as physically and that path of evolution willplay a huge part in the way we interact with the rest of the universe. Hisworks really highlight the importance of keeping an open mind to all thedifferent forms life in the universe could take.

"WhatI appreciated about him was that he really delved into the mind. For him itseems that the particular form of life takes a back seat to the intelligence oflife, and the creativity of life, and the many ways in which it might beexpressed throughout the universe. I think that what reading works like hishave done for me is just to continually remind me to keep my thoughts open andready for unexpected possibilities. Not to be too quick to throw away an ideathat seems outlandish. I think we will [achieve his goal of finding other lifein the universe]. It?s just a matter of dedication on our part to that goal."

AllenSteele, author of "GalaxyBlues":

"ArthurC. Clarke was not only a principal literary influence of mine, but I'm alsoproud to say that he was my friend. During the 90s, he and I were pen-pals forawhile, the result of my having named a fictional space colony after him. Hewas extraordinarily gracious to a young writer at the beginning of his career. Hisletters were filled with cartoons he'd clipped from newspapers, photos fromNASA space probes for which he'd written funny captions, and warm praise forthe novels and stories I'd sent him. Our relationship was necessarilylong-distance, and conducted before e-mail became widely available, but Ialways looked forward to finding something in my mail box that was postmarked Sri Lanka.

"Theworld has lost one of its great visionaries ... and I've lost a friend whoencouraged me when I needed it the most. Neither the world nor I will everforget him."

RaymondKurzweil, inventor andfuturist:

"In2001 Arthur C. Clarke not only envisioned the future of artificialintelligence, but he also foresaw the 'uncanny valley' in which [artificialintelligence] becomes creepy — and dangerous — when it is oh-so-close to humanintelligence, but not fully there. Hal [9000] realized he had made a mistakeand then imagining that he must be perfect felt that he would be disconnectedfor having made a mistake, and reasoned that he had better turn off his crewmates first. That was perfectly logical but demented ? so we should takeClarke's warning seriously.

"I hadthe pleasure and honor of discussing this with him using a 'teleportec' virtualreality system from Sri Lanka and I will always treasure my dialogue withhim."

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  • Video: Arthur C. Clarke ? To Plan For A Century
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  • The Essential Arthur C. Clarke Library

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