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Sir Arthur C. Clarke's Legacy

Exclusive to ArthurCClarke.net, these established writers offer
personal insight into the depth of Arthur C. Clarke's influence.
Thank you to all who have contributed.

"My introduction to Arthur Clark was 'Childhood's End', which another college student had bought for a class in Child psychology, then discovered it wasn't that, and gave it to me. It was a good novel. I don't think it influenced me as a writer, however."

- Piers Anthony

"I don't remember ever NOT knowing about Arthur C. Clarke; he was one of the authors always in our house. 'Tales From The White Hart' is the one of the original, seminal and still best bars in science fiction - the pub as microcosm!"

- Kage Baker

"Sir Arthur is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century--and very important to my own career. To this day, I refer to Arthur's novels when I write my own--just to see how it's done by the master."

- Greg Bear

"Arthur showed me that a High Church voice in science fiction could also have wit and insight. He has led the field in both lofty fiction and a wry insight into science. He is the ultimate hard sf writer."

- Gregory Benford

"I first met Arthur C. Clarke in 1956, when I was a technical editor at the Glenn L. Martin Co. (now Lockheed Martin) working on the Vanguard project. Arthur came to do research on what we all thought would be the first artificial satellite to be launched into orbit. I spent two days showing him through the project. As he was leaving to return to his home in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) I pushed a shoebox full of manuscript into his arms and asked if he'd read it and 'tell me what's wrong with it.' Not only did he take that showbox back to Ceylon with him, he returned it with detailed notes that helped me enormously and - most of all - encouraged me to push ahead with my writing of fiction. I owe my career to Arthur, one of the kindest and most generous men in the solar system."

- Ben Bova

"Arthur Clarke was born at the right time to be appreciated. Any other culture would have dealt with such a rambunctious, creative and questioning mind by dispatching it with an axe! But he (deservedly!) gets to be a national -- and international -- treasure. What a deal! So no complaints, Arthur. Just smile as we thank you for all the cool mental rides."

- David Brin

"For me as a reader of science fiction, the work of Arthur C. Clarke has always stood apart as unique and powerful. I've found his visions of humanity and its technology in the future breathtaking. As a writer? I believe he's paved the way for thoughtful, thought-provoking science fiction to help society as a whole examine key questions about the future, particularly the space program. We should all be grateful for how he opened the minds of a generation."

- Julie Czerneda

"Arthur looks like a scientist. His work is infused with science and even more importantly, a respect for science in the same way that a diva's appearances are infused with perfume. But for all that, what has struck me the most in reading his work over the decades is that his science is never dry. It's filled with the same sense of wonder I felt when I first encountered SF as a child, that feeling of amazement and joy that true scientists experience when they make a new discovery, when they contribute some small fact to the great body of human knowledge. Reading Arthur C. Clarke is like opening Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, with one important exception: you always know what you're going to get, and it's all good."

- Alan Dean Foster

"Arthur not only was a primary influence on my reading and writing -- and thinking -- but he also helped me select a wife! When I was in high school I gave my girlfriend a copy of 'Expedition to Earth', which hooked her on science fiction. That was 45 years ago, and we're still together."

- Joe Haldeman

"Arthur C Clarke’s 'The Deep Range' was the first science fiction work I ever read, back in primary school, and was probably the inspiration behind my desire to become a marine scientist. It certainly began my lifelong love of SF, which led inevitably to my becoming an SF writer and setting some of my own stories in the deep oceans. Thanks, Arthur."

- Ian Irvine

"The first SF book I ever read was Arthur C. Clarke's 'Childhood's End.' Somehow, in those pre-Star Trek days, I had gotten to age 14 without ever becoming aware of SF. That year I had my first boyfriend, who was studying to be a pianist. Ever afternoon after school I would go to his house and take up my adoring-teenage-girl pose of hanging over the piano as he practiced. Unfortunately, I am tone deaf and could only hang adoringly for about ten minutes, tops. After that I would edge away from the piano and toward my boyfriend's father's bookshelves, pulling off books at random. One day I pulled 'Childhood's End.' By page 3 I was in love -- not with a pianist but a genre. Clarke's wonderful novel showed me things I hadn't even known I wanted: a canvas as large as the galaxy, questions as large as the fate of all humanity. I can't think of a better introduction to SF. Thank you, Sir Arthur."

- Nancy Kress

"What I loved, and still love, about Clarke is his willingness to think big not only in terms of concept, but also in terms of philosophy and thought. The greatest moments in Clarke's best works are often small and quiet ones, although beautifully set up by all the enormous themes and forces which he's employed before. Forget about light years, aeons and alien star systems; Clarke has always appreciated that the most marvellous, exciting and chilling spaces of all lie within the human head, and the human heart."

- Ian MacLeod

"When I was three years old, my father was obsessed with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. He took me to see that movie over and over again, and it had a huge influence on me. It still amazes me that when I grew up to be a science fiction writer, Clarke actually took the time to return my letters, and even allowed an excerpt from one of my novels to be published in the back of '3001: The Final Odyssey.' Talk about a dream come true."

- Wil McCarthy

"From the Jesuit navigator of 'The Star' to the explorers of 'Rendezvous with Rama' and beyond, it's been a magnificent ride. Thank you, Arthur."

- Jack McDevitt

"Arthur Clarke influenced me first as a reader. He had the knack of showing huge processes, huge expanses of time and space, in ways that were visceral. 'Against the Fall of Night' set my mind expanding. My gut wanted to run when he showed me dinosaur footprints chasing a jeep. In my daydreams I continued the stories, to rescue doomed characters, to see things I’d only glimpsed in text. In later years I tried to match him, to show those vastnesses of space and time with little telling details. He’s still the benchmark, the means by which we measure our skills. He once told a radio audience I was his favorite writer. Most writers won’t do that; it ticks off too many friends. He apologized to Jerry Pournelle at Jerry’s party for him that night. Hordes of us have stories about things Arthur has done for them. He’s an immensely generous man."

- Larry Niven

"As a boy and a young man, I was not only entertained by Arthur C. Clarke’s fiction, but my curiosity about the universe was nurtured, too. Even at ten years old, I could tell that many of his stories were taking place in something resembling a real and relevant future. I am continually amazed at how readable some of his works of fifty plus years ago still are today. As I entered the astronautical engineering profession myself, I appreciated Clarke’s writing even more--not only his science but his characters seemed real to me, much more like the people around me than the thoughtless, abrasive, impulsive characters--villains and heroes--that seemed to populate so much other science fiction--people who would never survive in the world of corporate astronautics long enough to gain the positions writers have given them. Clarke’s gentle irony and lack of bombast, paradoxically, etch some of his lines far more deeply in my memory than anything else might because their impact comes from my own realization of what they meant. Clarke tends to understate and leave the exclamation points as an exercise for the student. They are there, if you can think and empathize. Often, the sheer scale of his vision obviates the need for any literary histrionics. When I took up writing myself, I looked to his short works as exemplars for story construction, particularly of the sort that leads up to some kind of wondrous revelation at the end, one which is often a metaphor that extends one’s mind far beyond the immediate story. So I will end by offering a few of these final lines (hopefully within the fair use doctrine) without specifying the story--in so doing providing a minor puzzle for those visiting this site. Clarke is fond of puzzles.

Behind him the river flowed softly to the sea, winding through the
fertile plains on which, more than a thousand centuries ahead,
Yaan’s descendants would build the great city they were to call Babylon.
'You see,' he said, 'It’s started already.' And he went out into the night.
...we have set off the fire alarm and have nothing to do but wait.
I do not think we will have to wait for long.
...presently, he turned his back on the dwindling Sun.
Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.."

- Gerald “G. David” Nordley

"I'm sure everyone is going to talk about Arthur's enormous contributions to both science and science fiction, and of course he's one of the most influential people ever to work in this field. But I want to mention that he is also one of the funniest. I can still pick up his 'Tales From the White Hart' or some of his very early parodies and get a laugh out of them. I mean, who else would ever have thought of writing a story about a cowardly man-eating plant?"

- Mike Resnick

"When I was eight I read a story called 'Meeting with Medusa', about a cyborg astronaut sent on a mission of exploration into the clouds of Jupiter. I think the end of that story, where we find out what's happened to Howard Falcon, was pretty much the point when science fiction sunk its fangs into my jugular. I've never been the same since, and I've never wanted to be the same since."

- Alastair Reynolds

"Arthur C. Clarke has been the single greatest influence on me, and, in fact, I just quoted one of Clarke's dicta on writing ('the best way to end a novel is by opening up a new vista that allows the reader to write the sequel in his or her own mind') to my editor. Indeed, given that so much of my own work is based on exploring the science-vs.-religion conflict, I'd have to say that the stories 'The Nine Billion Names of God' and the 'The Star' (plus the essay 'God and Einstein' from 'Report on Planet Three') had a bigger impact on me than anything else I've ever read. Clarke's liberal humanism also meant an enormous amount to me, and was a needed antidote, at least in the eyes of this bleeding-heart-liberal Canadian, to the conservative politics I was seeing in so much American hard-SF. Long live Sir Arthur!"

- Robert J. Sawyer

"Arthur C. Clarke's writings affected me deeply, from an early age. They're part of the key canon of British science fiction -- indeed, of British 20th century literature, because he succeeded in bridging the 'two cultures' more effectively than any writer since Neville Shute. He brought humanitarian insight and philosophical perspectives to the field of hard, extrapolative SF at a time when it desperately needed them. And along the way he invented one (or possibly two) technologies that are already having a vast impact on our lives: the geosynchronous communications satellite and (in the near future) the space elevator."

- Charles Stross

"Arthur C. Clarke is a Renaissance man. Tremendously talented in both Arts and Sciences, he can only be described as Leonardo Da Vinci of the second half of the twentieth century. It was my enormous honor and privilege to analyze his unique prose opus in both my MA and PhD thesis."

- Zoran Zivkovic

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