Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke dead at 90

Arthur C. Clarke, author of over 100 fiction and non-fiction books, has died at age 90. Regarded as one of science fiction’s leading lights, Clarke is perhaps best known for the ground breaking 1968 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on Clarke’s short story The Sentinel.

“Sir Arthur passed away a short while ago at the Apollo Hospital,” said Rohan de Silva, Clarke’s personal assistant. “He had a cardio-respiratory attack.”

Born in Minehead, Somerset, England on 16 December 1917, he had made Sri Lanka his home since 1956. Clarke had battled post-polio syndrome since the 1960s.

As well as writing such science fiction classics as Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and The Songs of Distant Earth, Clarke was also the first to hypothesise the idea of communication satellites, long before they became a reality. Describing the concept in Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give Worldwide Radio Coverage?, published in Wireless World in October 1945, the geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke Orbit or the Clarke Belt in his honour.

“I’m a serial processor,” he confided to Wired Magazine in 1993. “I can’t work in parallel.” At that time he was working on over 102 diverse projects, including a Japanese TV series and a new musical based on his favourite novel, The Songs of Distant Earth.

Arthur C. Clarke was conferred an OBE in 1998, officially presented to him by Prince Charles in Sri Lanka in 2000. On his 90th birthday in December last year, which he described as his “90th orbit of the sun”, Clarke said he didn’t feel “a day over 89”, and made three birthday wishes: for ET to call, for man to kick his oil habit, and for peace in Sri Lanka.

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