Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do You Think He Will Dream?

One of my heroes has left us.
Of course, I kind of think he left most of us behind a long time ago.
Sir Arthur C. Clark was one of the most intelligent writers I've ever had the pleasure of reading. I have devoured almost everything he's ever put out, although there are a few small holes in my list. I will correct that soon enough.
Naturally my favorites are the Space Odyssey series, although there is one earlier one I like every bit as much. I personally enjoyed reading 2010 a little more than 2001, although there is no doubt which was more significant. Although there were those in the scientific community who preceded him, Clark was one of the first to challenge people's ideas about our place in the universe in the "mainstream" media world. At least he was among the first in my experience, perhaps that is why I was so attracted to his work at a very early age.
By the time 2001 was released, I had already read "The Sands of Mars" and "Childhood's End".
The latter still remains one of my favorite books of all time. If you have not read it, you would do well to pick it up. It holds up well for a science fiction book written in the early '50s.
When 2001 came out in the theaters I was only 10 and my Mom did not let me go see it. I got the book , though, and saw the movie at a late show when I was around 14 or 15. He and Kubrick made a hell of a pair! It was one of the very few movies I ever bought. I have not yet updated it to DVD, but I will.
I bought 3001 when it was released in '97. Yes, I got it right away even though that meant forking out the bucks for the hardback. In it there is a forward featuring an extensive interview with Clark in which he recounts the creation of 2001. It was actually Stanley Kubrick who pushed him into the project. The book and the movie were done simultaneously, so he and Kubrick would constantly be calling each other and saying things like"hey, you've got to rewrite / reshoot this part because I added this and that won't make sense now." Or " hey, I really want to use this effect, can you work that into the story somewhere?" I can almost hear it.
More recently he collaborated with Stephen Baxter on a great little series consisting of "Time's Eye, "Sunstorm", and "Firstborn". The first two were very good, although "Time's Eye" was definitely better. I haven't read "Firstborn" yet, it's in that pile of books waiting to get read on my office shelf. I just keep picking them up, and I'm collecting about 2 now for every 1 that I get around to reading. Mmmm, the downside of blogging, maybe?
I truly regret that Clark will no longer be around to excite me every so often with his amazing prescience. But he leaves a huge library of work, with a number of offerings I haven't gotten to yet, many that are worth the time to re-read, and a new one that is due to be published this year. So I will continue to enjoy his genius for years to come I'm sure!

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