Arthur C. Clarke, the British science fiction writer, died on Wednesday at the age of 90.
Clarke wrote more than 80 fiction and nonfiction books (some in collaboration) and more than 100 short stories — as well as hundreds of articles and essays. He is best known for his book “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But science-fiction fans of my generation could mention many more. Books like “Childhood’s End,” “Rendezvous With Rama” and “Imperial Earth.”
He had a better grounding in science than most other science fiction writers. Consequently his stories have a better sense of realism than many today.
Physics professor Gregory Benford said in 2005 that Clarke “was the major hard science fiction writer — that is the writer of science fiction that is scientifically scrupulous — in the second half of the 20th century.” Benford is an award-winning science fiction author who collaborated with Clarke on the 1990 science-fiction novel “Beyond the Fall of Night.”
But Clarke was also a great visionary and had a remarkable record of imagining future technologies. Isaac Asimov once commented about Clarke: “Nobody has done more in the way of enlightened prediction.” For example Clarke wrote a 1945 article outlining a worldwide communications network based on fixed satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 22,300 miles — an orbital area now often referred to as the Clarke Orbit.
He also foretold an array of technological notions in his works such as space stations, moon landings using a mother ship and a landing pod, cellular phones and the Internet.