Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Childhood's End

Arthur C. Clarke, the last of the Big Three of Science Fiction (Robert Heinlein, d. 1988; Isaac Asimov, d. 1992) died March 19th at age 90. He is most well-known as the author of the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, due to the success of the Stanley Kubrick-directed film. Clarke co-wrote the screenplay of the film with Kubrick. And the novel grew from a story, "The Sentinel", Clarke published in 1948.

Somehow over the years I missed seeing 2001, the film, or reading 2001, the novel. But Clarke was one of my favourites when I went through the teenage boy sci-fi reading phase that I think many of us Generation X'ers went through in the 70s. A splendid obituary/tribute to Clarke by Andrew Leonard in Salon speaks to exactly this demographic - about the cheap, yellowing paperbacks of Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or Asimov's I, Robot and Foundation.

Childhood's End (1953) is considered his best, and I agree. I received a hardcover edition of it when I was 12 or so, and I vividly remember that novel blowing my young mind!
It set the bar for the aliens-invade-Earth genre, with its vivid opening scene of giant spaceships appearing one day over all Earth's cities. Its tale of humankind evolving into a new life form was thought-provoking, and was marred only slightly by my Grade 10 English teacher pushing Christianity into the story. Of course, now I wonder if it influenced the writers of the Left Behind series about "The Rapture".

The Library has a good selection of his books, including the giant The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke - from 1937's "Travel by Wire!" to "Improving the Neighbourhood" from 1999.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home