Arthur C. Clarke, the writer and visionary, a former Chairman of the British Interplanetary Society, has died, three months after celebrating his 90th birthday.
Born on 16th December, 1917, in Minehead, Somerset, Arthur Clarke was the eldest of four children. Before leaving school he joined the British Interplanetary Society, which had been founded in 1933. During the Second World War, he served in the RAF as a radar specialist. Afterwards he attended Kings College, London, graduating in 1948 with first-class honours in physics and mathematics.
In 1945 he sold a short story called ‘Rescue Party’ to Astounding Science Fiction, and began his science fiction writing career. In 1947, ten years before the launch of the first artificial satellite, he wrote a technical paper, published in Wireless World, demonstrating the feasibility of using artificial satellites as relay stations for radio communications. The “geostationary orbit” now used by numerous communications satellites, has since been designated the “Clarke Orbit” by the International Astronomical Union.
It was around this time that he wrote a story ‘The Fires Within’ that would later appear in Eagle, under the pseudonym Charles Willis. Arthur Clarke’s contribution to the early days of Eagle and ‘Dan Dare’, for which he was for a time scientific advisor, was marked here on the occasion of his 90th birthday. It may have been small in the overall scheme of his life, but that association is remembered affectionately and respectfully here.
Arthur Clarke became a prolific writer of fact and fiction, with almost 100 books to his name; books such as The Exploration of Space, Childhood’s End, The Sands of Mars, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Rendezvous with Rama. The novel 2001: A Space Odyssey resulted from four years collaboration with the film director Stanley Kubrick, with whom he shared the credit for the movie screenplay.
Arthur C. Clarke was knighted in 1988.