Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C Clarke 1917 - 2008

Science fiction author, Arthur C Clarke, dies aged 90

Sadly Arthur C Clarke is no longer with us. I was a great fan of his work. The first time I became aware of him was around 1984, when I was 8, and I became a big fan of his TV series 'Arthur C Clarke's world of strange powers'. The premise was that he investigated, with a scientific eye, all sorts of mysterious phenomena. This was right up my street. Then, a few years later, I discovered the film, then book of '2001: A Space Odyssey', still, in my opinion, the best science fiction film ever made. I agree with the film critic Roger Ebert when he wrote:

'Only a few films are transcendent, and work upon our minds and imaginations like music or prayer or a vast belittling landscape. Most movies are about characters with a goal in mind, who obtain it after difficulties either comic or dramatic. “2001: A Space Odyssey'' is not about a goal but about a quest, a need. It says to us: We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh but intelligence.'

Through the years I greatly enjoyed his 'Rama' series of books, which are set around a huge mysterious alien artefact which appears in our solar system, and 'Childhood's End', from which 'Independence Day' borrowed some ideas, but which still remains unique and unsettling. In fact, 'Childhood's End' and the Rama books have had screenplays developed, but haven't yet been made into films, so theres still plenty of Clarke storytelling awaiting the movie-going world. His writing evoked the scope and grandeur of space and time, leaving you with a mixture of emotions from inspiration to sadness.

Here is a clip from 2001. One of the reasons why the film works so well is that its director, Stanley Kubrick, choose to use waltz music with the space scenes. The movement of spacecraft, like planets themselves, is apparently slow, and circular, just like a waltz dance. And the images and music just complement eachother perfectly. Watching it is somehow both soothing and stimulating at once.


Anonymous said...

Arthur C. Clarke will be sorely missed; 2001 is a work of art. I've never met a woman who liked it, or the movie; far too subtle, and no shitty romantic sub-plot I guess.

Anonymous said...

Hi Duncan,

Its also interesting that the vision of the future painted in 2001 does not include feminism! The women who do appear are largely in roles like air stewardesses and are peripheral to the main story.