Arthur C. Clarke: Luminaries Pay Tribute (Continued)
Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke.
Credit: AP Photo.

Editor's note: received an overwhelming response to the passing of Arthur C. Clarke; below are more reactions from scientists, writers and other luminaries. Click here to return to the original story.

Jack McDevitt, author of "Cauldron":

"Those of us who started reading [science fiction] in the fifties remember Arthur Clarke for the sense of wonder that lent a special perspective to his narratives. His passion for the majesty of the universe put us on the bridge of a starship which most of us have never left. He possessed an unrelenting optimism in the future, a conviction that the human race would ultimately do fine. And perhaps even more important, that we were worth saving. We had him with us for 90 years. It's about as much as we could ask."

Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy:

"He was one of the great ones, a kind of founder of modern science fiction. The thing that really I love about Clarke is that his vision was positive, of humanity spreading out into space, being egalitarian and justice progressing. Technology was just one part of the picture, but compassion and justice were as well. He also had 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 modern fiction. He made the future seem positive and exciting, he made space seem accessible — that there was a bigger world than just our petty concerns of the moment."

"What I think is exceptional about Clarke as a person is that he really enjoyed his life. He called me on my birthday once and we talked a lot about Mars, and this was a beautiful birthday present for me. He was a really cheery guy, and he enjoyed what he did."

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

"I?m sitting 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?s End.'? To me that story brings out the idea that we are still in the process of evolution ourselves, we haven?t reached the end stage, we are continuing to develop and evolve mentally as well as physically and that path of evolution will play a huge part in the way we interact with the rest of the universe. His works really highlight the importance of keeping an open mind to all the different forms life in the universe could take.

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

Allen Steele, author of "Galaxy Blues":

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

"The world has lost one of its great visionaries ... and I've lost a friend who encouraged me when I needed it the most. Neither the world nor I will ever forget him."

Raymond Kurzweil, inventor and futurist:

"In 2001 Arthur C. Clarke not only envisioned the future of artificial intelligence, but he also foresaw the 'uncanny valley' in which [artificial intelligence] becomes creepy — and dangerous — when it is oh-so-close to human intelligence, but not fully there. Hal [9000] realized he had made a mistake and then imagining that he must be perfect felt that he would be disconnected for having made a mistake, and reasoned that he had better turn off his crew mates first. That was perfectly logical but demented ? so we should take Clarke's warning seriously.

"I had the pleasure and honor of discussing this with him using a 'teleportec' virtual reality system from Sri Lanka and I will always treasure my dialogue with him."

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