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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

entry arrow11:30 AM | Arthur C. Clarke, 90

And barely have we considered one death today when here comes another -- another shock wave of mortality, another passing away of genius. What's with the Grim Reaper today? And what's with this tendency to take away our icons two at a time, the way he did with Antonioni and Bergman? This time, the news of passing comes from the world of literature, although Arthur C. Clarke -- like Anthony Minghella -- also dabbled in cinema, responsible as he was for HAL, man and machines, and the future that would be in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The one philosophy we learn from Clarke, the high priest of rigorously intelligent science fiction and fantasy, was that the any sufficiently advanced technology is veritably indistinguishable from magic, something that has deeply informed my own forays into science fiction writing. His short story, "The Star," was able to limn the intricate relationship of faith and science, and made me look with more vigorousness into matters of belief. It floored me, that story, the first I read it. When I wrote "The Pepe Report" a few years back, it was its structure that I aimed to emulate. It proved difficult. I happen to be reading Rendezvous With Rama these days, and I will be going back to the book with a little more urgency now. Gerald Jonas, writing for The New York Times, says: "His work was also prophetic: his detailed forecast of telecommunications satellites in 1945 came more than a decade before the first orbital rocket flight. Other early advocates of a space program argued that it would pay for itself by jump-starting new technology. Mr. Clarke set his sights higher. Borrowing a phrase from William James, he suggested that exploring the solar system could serve as the 'moral equivalent of war,' giving an outlet to energies that might otherwise lead to nuclear holocaust.Mr. Clarke’s influence on public attitudes toward space was acknowledged by American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts, by scientists like the astronomer Carl Sagan and by movie and television producers. Gene Roddenberry credited Mr. Clarke’s writings with giving him courage to pursue his Star Trek project in the face of indifference, even ridicule, from television executives." Mr. Clarke is now with his stars.

UPDATE:

The New York Times' Edward Rothstein appraises Clarke's scientific and spiritual legacy -- ironic for a man who left instructions for his eventual death that "absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral."

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