A few weeks ago, I wrote about the influence of Jules Verne as a writer in the science-fiction field. I have been going back and forth over which acknowledged great sci-fi writer I would cover next as an influential author and after checking der Google, decided to go with Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke’s wiki points out:
For much of the later 20th century, Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein were informally known as the “Big Three” of science fiction writers.
I will be covering Heinlein and Asimov (as well as other sci-fi and fantasy writers) in future diaries for their influence.
As the plaque pictured to the right tells us, Clarke’s influence extended far beyond the simple genre of science-fiction writer. As with many writers, he had a noteworthy career outside of his writing. From Clarke’s bio at “Biography.com,”:
He was a radar instructor in World War II, and originated the idea of satellite communication in a scientific article in 1945, decades before they became a reality. He also predicted space shuttles, super-fast computers, lightning quick communications and that man would reach the moon.
Clarke’s wiki presented it slightly differently:
Although he was not the originator of the concept of geostationary satellites, one of his most important contributions may be his idea that they would be ideal telecommunications relays. He advanced this idea in a paper privately circulated among the core technical members of the BIS in 1945. The concept was published in Wireless World in October of that year. Clarke also wrote a number of non-fiction books describing the technical details and societal implications of rocketry and space flight. The most notable of these may be The Exploration of Space (1951) and The Promise of Space (1968). In recognition of these contributions the geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometres (22,000 mi) above the equator is officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union as a Clarke Orbit.
Even without so much of his other writing beyond 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2001… alone makes Clarke an extremely influential writer. The movie is one of the iconic films of all time. “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” The quotes from the movie linked here just might have had a small impact on how some folks have responded to computers in our lives over the years.
For the record, in deciding whether I was going to post on Heinlein, Asimov, or Clarke first, I googled for a short story titled The Nine Billion Names of God. It was an easy decision to start with Clarke when I realized he was the author. As a reviewer of the book of short stories that includes Nine Billion Names… says:
What if there really was a bunch of monks in Tibet, who bought a computer to print out the nine billion names of God; for that was the task for which humanity was created and when it had been carried out, well, I won’t spoil it. Read it and reflect on the meaning of life.
Did the art create the world or did the world inevitably lead from the art?
Photo from cometstarmoon licensed under Creative Commons