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Science Fiction Giant Arthur C. Clarke Dies at Age 90

Sad news today, that Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction visionary, and collaborator with Stanley Kubrick on the iconic movie 2001, has passed away at the age of 90. He leaves behind a prolific record of accomplishment, with more than 70 novels, short story collections, and nonfiction books, as well as a science fiction award that bears his name.

I still remember my first encounter with Clarke's fiction. The story "The Star," with its mix of anthropology, interstellar travel, and awesome ability to convey the vastness of space (not to mention its horrific ending), absolutely stunned me when I first read it--as did 2001 when I first saw it in the theater. Clarke often had under-estimated range and versatility in his science fiction, able to deliver close, personal portraits of characters and situations but equally able to zoom out and give readers mind-bending glimpses of space and time.

Tomorrow, Omnivoracious will run a longer piece commemorating the legacy of Arthur C. Clarke. In the meantime, readers can be in equal measure sad at his passing and appreciative of his long and lasting legacy.

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During the Second World War he served in the Royal Air Force as a radar specialist and was involved in the early warning radar defence system, which contributed to the RAF's success during the Battle of Britain. Clarke spent most of his wartime service working on Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) radar as documented in the semi-autobiographical Glide Path, his only non-science-fiction novel. Although GCA did not see much practical use in the war, it proved vital to the Berlin Airlift of 1948–1949 after several years of development. Clarke initially served in the ranks, and was a Corporal instructor on radar at No 9 Radio School, RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (Technical Branch) on 27 May 1943. He was promoted Flying Officer on 27 November 1943. He was appointed chief training instructor at RAF Honiley in Warwickshire and was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. After the war he earned a first-class degree in mathematics and physics at King's College London.

He was quite the visionary. Many of his writings have moved from fiction to reality. So many accomplishments.

And so passes the last of the Big Three. RIP Arthur C. Clarke.

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