|Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford meet the late, great Arthur C. Clarke in 1983.|
Late yesterday evening (8th March 2008), the news came through on the television that celebrated British science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke died at his home on Sri Lanka, at the age of 90 (alongside the equally tragic passing of British film-maker Anthony Minghella). As a big fan of Clarke’s work, I was very sad to hear of his passing-not only has the world lost a literary giant in the greatest sense- an expert not only in the field of science fiction, but in writing in general, but we have also lost someone who was a great fan of science fiction in other mediums as well, especially relating to film and, like the equally acclaimed late author Isaac (I, ROBOT) Asimov, was a huge fan of the STAR WARS films (of which Clarke’s own prior work on his short story, THE SENTINEL, would later become expanded and filmed as the movie generally regarded as Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and a movie which, in itself, would inspire George Lucas in the creation of the STAR WARS SAGA that we know and love today (and also using many of the talented behind the scenes personnel who helped Kubrick bring his epic vision, from Clarke’s original words, onto the screen).
As a little dedication and tribute to Clarke, I have enclosed the late author’s own nice little personal message to George Lucas, congratulating him when STAR WARS celebrated its Tenth Anniversary in 1987. This appeared in the celebratory STARLOG TRIBUTE magazine that came with the Anniversary convention event held I Los Angeles-the inside pic with the dedication, used opposite, shows Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford with the author at his Sri Lankan home during a 1983 filming break for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.
Here is the full tribute:
“First, let me join a few million of you out there and thank George for enriching my life. You did what most of us thought was impossible-you brought our visions to the screen, and so created a new universal myth for our times, with heroes and villains the whole world now recognises. Of course, you were tapping the pre-existing SF culture-but if anyone criticises you for that, George, point to the excellent precedent of W. Shakespeare, Esq., and remind them: “Talent borrows-but genius steals.”
I don’t want to dampen the festivities by ending on a serious note, but much as I’ve enjoyed your marvellous trilogy, my pleasure has often been alloyed with a subsequent sense of guilt (St.Augustine, I think, once said something like that in a slightly different context).
The very week you celebrate the 10th Anniversary of STAR WARS, I’ll be receiving the 10th Charles A. Lindbergh Award in Paris-and the title of the address will be “Star Peace.” I’d like to quote briefly from it.
“We have already met Darth Vader-and he is us. If we are to survive, we must exorcise the demons of our haunted childhood, and grow out of our fascination with “technoporn”-gleaming weaponry and beautiful explosions. Whatever armaments may be needed to preserve peace in the immediate future, in the long run only political solutions can save us… The real problem is not military hardware, but human software...”
No one is in a better position to create that software than we science fiction fans. Let’s get on with the job!!”
Funny, isn’t it-twenty one years on, and Clarke’s final words of his tribute still hold much resonance today…
If anyone out there hasn’t had a chance to read any of Mister Clarke’s work, we seriously do recommend them, especially CHILDHOODS END (whatever happened to the movie version to have been done by David (FIGHT CLUB, SEVEN, ZODIAC) Fincher? Oh, what a terrific movie that would have been), RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA, his many excellent short stories, and, of course, THE SENTINEL/ 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. All of these were groundbreaking works of literature and science fiction literature, and still hold up well today.
Mister Clarke, we shall miss your journeys into the unknown, the pursuit of discovery in the worlds of science fiction and the exploration of the human, and alien, spirit. May the Force be with you..always, and God speed!!!