Arthur C. Clarke in the office of his home in Sri Lanka in March 2005.  He passed away yesterday (March 18) at age 90.  (Photo: Amy Marash)

Arthur C. Clarke, Visionary Novelist of the Sci-Fi Classic "2001", passes away at age 90

By Omar P.L. Moore/The Popcorn Reel

March 19, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, the man who wrote the science fiction classic novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, passed away yesterday at age 90.  Mr. Clarke had written well over 30 novels, numerous short stories, essays and dozens of non-fiction works, all mainly pertaining to the universe and its known and unknown quantities.  Mr. Clarke was born in Somerset in 1917.  In 1956 he would move to Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, where he lived right up until his death. 

Mr. Clarke loved to scuba dive, and his diving school in Hikkaduwa on the south coast of the island nation was destroyed by the 2004 tsunami inspired by the disastrous earthquake in the Indian Ocean.  Mr. Clarke survived, and a new school was built. 

Arthur C. Clarke received a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) honor from Queen Elizabeth of England in 1989 and was knighted, giving him the title of "Sir" eleven years later.  Although he was not able to travel to England to be officially knighted due to ill health, Mr. Clarke nonetheless was given the title Knight Bachelor by the U.K.'s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.  Three years ago Mr. Clarke, also a citizen of Sri Lanka, was awarded the country's highest honor, the Sri Lankabhimanya, also known as "The Pride of Sri Lanka".

It was, however, the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey for which Mr. Clarke was most renowned.  In a long and illustrious career, 2001 stood out among other distinguished Clarke works.  The science fiction novel, which chronicled the dawn of humankind and journeyed through into the space age, was published in 1968, the same year in which it was adapted by Mr. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick into a screenplay for the motion picture of the same title directed by Mr. Kubrick.  Both screenwriters won the Academy Award in 1969 for best adapted screenplay for the film, which despite initially scathing reactions from many of the world's established film critics, remains as the most lauded science fiction film of all time.  Mr. Kubrick's "2001" film is approaching its 40th anniversary (it made its world premiere on April 2, 1968.) 

Mr. Clarke believed that humans were either alone in the universe or with plenty of company.  "In either case, the idea is quite staggering," he was once quoted as saying.  He also had three laws, one of which was, "when a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right.  When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."

Arthur C. Clarke was 90 and died of breathing problems and complications resulting from them, according to reports referencing one of Mr. Clarke's aides.

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