Saturday, 5 April 2008

Arthur C. Clarke: One Final Odyssey

It is strange to think that the great man is gone now, after growing to such a grand age and remaining active in his writing and his work for the benefit of his adopted home of Sri Lanka. The giants of science fiction are disappearing, and it is up to us, the fans and writers of this age, to carry on the work they began. We must continue to offer tales of action, drama, suspense and speculative grandeur that helps each new generation take a look at itself and where it may well be heading.

Just days before he passed away, Clarke completed reviewing the final manuscript of a book he had been working on with another science fiction legend (and a personal hero of mine), Frederik Pohl. That book is entitled The Last Theorem and follows the story of a young Sri Lankan mathematician who finds a short proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. Due for release late in 2008 by SF giants Del Rey, the book is important not simply due to Clarke’s death, but also because it brings together two of the finest minds to ever wonder ‘What If…?’ and put their ideas forward to the masses. It seems fitting that this book, showing an obvious love for the place he called home, would be his last, and looks set to be a fitting legacy.

Throughout his long and sometimes controversial life, Clarke brought the world some of the most memorable and important science fiction stories ever written, and also foresaw many aspects of modern life long before they became a reality. It was his skill for putting ordinary people with ordinary motivations into extraordinary situations and making their stories not only enjoyable but wholly believable that will carry his name on for a very long time to come.

It is a sad fact that there will be something of a media circus upon the release of The Last Theorem, but then again, that may be a good thing as it means his final work will be blessed with a wider readership than it would have otherwise garnered. It is very sad that he is gone, but for those new readers, and for those of us that have read him for many years already, it means that his ideas will live on. Not only that, but such is the power of much of his work (2001, Rama, Childhood’s End etc), that future generations will still find much to lose themselves in, and who knows, they may even spot some elements of their day to day lives in the generations- old dreams of Arthur C. Clarke.

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