Friday, March 21, 2008

Memorium: Arthur C. Clarke

Two days ago Arthur C. Clarke took the last space elevator out of Sri-Lanka, and we lost the last of the true masters of the first golden age of sci-fi. Not as thinky as Asimov, and not as emotional as Heinlein, Clarke's was never as well defined in my mind. He always seemed to have a belief in a higher power. It was never, or rarely, deity, but it was a repeated theme in his work: the builders of Rama, the monoliths of the Space Odysseys, the aliens in Childhood's End and in the coda of The Fountains of Paradise. Despite the amount of his work I've consumed, he will always remain a bit of an enigma to me. I enjoy his work, The Fountains of Paradise is thoroughly engrossing and I'd designate it as one of the greatest sci-fi works of all time, but I never reacted to them as strongly as some of my absolute emotional favorites. That said, I'm very sorry to lose him. I felt that, as long as he was still around, we still had a link to that generation of writers.

When thinking of a quote of his to remember him, I immediately thought of Against the Fall of Night, a dark and haunting work about a human race emerging from millennia of obsolescence as the stars of our galaxy were headed toward their final days. The final line of that book are:

"In the universe the night was falling: the shadows were lengthening toward an east that would not know another dawn. But elsewhere the stars were still young and the light of morning lingered: and along the path he once had followed, Man would one day go again."

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