Space Ramblings

Arthur C. Clarke Last of the Grandmasters

With the death of Arthur C. Clarke, Science Fiction buries the last of its grandmasters. Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein both died before reaching the 21st century, but Arthur C. Clarke made it securely through the future he wrote about and lived to see the world grow much stranger as it was both enriched and assaulted by history’s own version of future shock.

The grandmasters were in many ways Science Fiction’s real link to its roots in technologically progressive optimistic and individualistic hard science fiction, the way the genre started out back in the Hugo Gernsback days. In some ways it’s like the deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in the early 19th century toward Independence Day, at once commemorating the national legacy even as it was severed by mortality.

That optimism is still present every time a product of human engineering and ingenuity produced by many of the same people who read Clarke and Asimov, who watched Star Trek and Star Wars and who built model spaceships and studied the stars through weak telescopes growing up, lands on Mars or orbits Venus or Jupiter. The men die but the books remain behind and just as despite the government we actually have today, anyone can look back at the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, despite what Science Fiction is today, we can always open a copy of Childhood’s End and remember what used to be.

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