Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

I am of that age now that many of the people I consider my heroes from my childhood (for various reasons of accomplishment or wild talent) are in their 60s or above and I know that soon they will not be with us for much longer. The terrible morbid truth is that all my heroes probably have less time remaining on earth than they have spent walking it.

So it was no great surprise but it was with great sadness that noted author and visionary Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90. I hope his remaining years were in comfort and were happy ones. I confess to being perplexed by his living arrangements in Sri Lanka, but from what I saw in a rare filmed interview a few years ago he seemed to be enjoying himself.

Of course, like many Science Fiction fans of my generation it was the blockbuster novel Rendezvous With Rama that got me hooked on Clarke at a young age. His background aided him in putting “hard” facts of science into his writings and gave a sense of authenticity to his work. It is hard to point out a better author and creator among his contemporaries. Even when his personal and religious beliefs were echoed by the characters and in the structured reality of his works it wasn’t a lecture as some writers are apt to force the reader to suffer through. Rather it merely added a sense of wonder to his created universes.

Rendezvous With Rama anecdote: When the book came out in paperback it was very popular among young readers. I often saw some well-worn and tattered library or personally-owned copy of Rama clutched in the hands of children as they rushed about to and from school. A good number of kids were deeply interested in the book and hopefully a love of reading stayed with them and grew. This unusual activity and enjoyment of books would again occur years later (though with much more media fanfare) as the Harry Potter series diverted children away from television and video games and children everywhere lugged around hardbound copies of the Rowling books. Once again, Arthur C. Clarke was ahead of the curve.

Dave Stevens, RIP

As reported by Mark Evanier, artist Dave Stevens died yesterday after an illness.

Being a Pulp and Serials fan, Dave Stevens was an artist whose work I really liked. I absolutely loved the Rocketeer (the Disneyesque Nazi Rocketmen faux-propaganda cartoon in the film adaptation alone was worth the price of the ticket) and was disappointed that fans were never able to receive much in the way of a continuing adventures of the series due to the ups and downs of the independent comic book industry of the 1980s and his glacial pace.
Most fans focus on the Good Girl art aspect of Stevens’ output and I fully appreciate it myself and understand the interests (It could be argued that the resurgence in popularity of the real Bettie Page could be attributed to exposure of his Betty character from the book at Cons in the 80s). But for me it was always the homage to the adventure serials of days past that really drew me to the book. I haven’t been exposed to much of his work in the last decade or so but every now and then I revisit the series and read them all over again. I always hoped that someday he would continue the adventures of Cliff Secord but someone else would have to pick up that task now. Thanks for the memories, Dave.

Dave Stevens
July 29, 1955 – March 10, 2008

The Rocketeer – Nazi Propaganda Cartoon