Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So Long, Sir Arthur

Lately I've been looking things up on Google News with some regularity -- if I do the search correctly, I can even find articles of mine -- and sometimes I just bring up the page to see what Google considers news. That's how I found out about Arthur C. Clarke's death today.

2001 is a movie I see every few years, and I think I'm due again, so I might have to put in the queue. It would interest no one else in this house, but it has long interested me. I have wispy recollections of a involved discussion with other NFL members in high school about exactly what was going on in that movie. I had a bit of an edge, since I'd read Clarke's novel version of the story. (And why were they going to Saturn in the book, but Jupiter in the movie?) In college, I recommended the movie to a fellow on my freshman hall, since it was being screened at the student cinema. "The most boring movie I ever saw," he later told me. "What were those damn monkeys doing anyway?" But he was too literal-minded for it. HAL remains a great character from speculative fiction.

Clarke wrote a lot of other things as well, of course, and I might have been the only kid in my high school freshman class familiar with the '62 version of Clarke's Profiles of the Future, a collection of essays about the future of the mesh between humanity and its technology. We had a beat-up paperback of it around the house, most likely acquired by my father when it was new. I absorbed it in the summer of '75 and it impressed me greatly for a while. I'm glad to see that it's still around, in an updated form, though I probably couldn't muster much interest in reading it now. I'll settle for some of the remarkable things the future in fact ended up offering, here in the late '00s, such as Google News.

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