Henri Reynard is the SciFi reader in our house. We think he read everything Clarke ever wrote. As a "fan" and admirer of Clarke he wrote this special obituary for this blog.
The world is always losing great human beings. Life and death dictate that fact for all of us. Even the greatest of lives comes to an end. Arthur Clarke’s life has ended. He left behind a legacy that few human beings achieve. As a scientist, writer and philosopher he impacted billions of lives. His invention of the satellite communications systems in such broad use today was only one small element of his wide ranging interest in the future of humanity.
Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, these men were the trinity of Science Fiction when I was young. The genre was sometimes then, and occasionally today remains, steeped in the logic and fundamental understanding of what science has meant to humanity. From extended life spans full of warmth, light and knowledge; to systems that offer us the hope of solving problems as far reaching as global warming or asteroid impact, these men were seminal in their vision of hope for the future.
I grew up in that atmosphere of hope along with a lot of young men and women, we are all old now. In a tiny blink of that ancient dragon time’s eye all of those years have fled. What they have left with me thanks to the men and women like Clarke who taught me so much about life and dreaming and working for a better future is still that hope and concern for humanity that their work expressed.
I will miss this great human being whom I never knew personally more than a lot of the people who inhabited places far closer to my life. I suspect that is a measure of how many of the people who were touched by his writings feel today. The delight of discovery that his work and times imbued in me remains and will be with me as long as my synapses are still snapping away.
I read with great interest his final interview. The most iconic moment in the interview was when the interviewer, Sawato R. Das, asked whether Clarke had ever "suspected that these satellites would one day prove to be so valuable to telecommunications."
He laughed and said:
“I'm often asked why I didn't try to patent the idea of communications satellites. My answer is always, ‘A patent is really a license to be sued.' ”
Thank you Arthur and God speed your being into whatever the best of all your futures might bring. Perhaps there won't be any lawyers there.