Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last of Big 3 SF Writers Dies

Arthur C. Clarke, a writer whose seamless blend of scientific expertise and poetic imagination helped usher in the space age, died early Wednesday in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he had lived since 1956. He was 90.

Rohan de Silva, an aide, confirmed the death and said Mr. Clarke had been experiencing breathing problems, The Associated Press reported. He had suffered from post-polio syndrome for the last two decades.

The author of almost 100 books, Mr. Clarke was an ardent promoter of the idea that humanity’s destiny lay beyond the confines of Earth. It was a vision served most vividly by “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the classic 1968 science-fiction film he created with the director Stanley Kubrick and the novel of the same title that he wrote as part of the project.
The New York Times account obscures Clarke's homosexuality. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, Clarke was considered one of the three Titans of the Golden Age of science fiction.

A discussion of romance in Clarke's work and in science fiction. The slander against Clarke.


[IMH] said...

With all due respect, why would any obituary make a big issue of Clarke's apparent homosexuality? He was an intensely private person, never proclaimed his preferences one way or another in public, and cannot be categorized in any honest fashion as a gay writer.

I brought it up in my blog post because of the slander that the Sunday Mirror had made, by way of admitting the very tiny kernel of truth that may have underlay that wretched story. But a general obit ought properly to cover his public life, not his private one.

Gary said...

In the last decades of his life he never made a secret of his orientation. At one point in a mainstream interview Clarke said that anyone who denied any same sex conduct should be presumed to be lying.

[IMH] said...

Well, he didn't deny it in the interviews I saw, but he didn't proclaim it either. For instance, from this 2000 interview:

"When impertinent reporters ask if I'm gay, I say, 'I'm mildly cheerful.' I go along with Mrs Patrick Campbell: 'I don't mind what people do in the bedroom, so long as they don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.'" He shakes his head, a touch despairingly. "People have strange attitudes to homosexuality."

Not exactly standing on the ramparts bellowing "I'm queer and I'm proud!", is it?

In any event, he was best known for his writing, followed perhaps by his invention or popularization of the communications satellite. His sexual orientation has little bearing on the former (it is one possible explanation for why there are so few realistic heterosexual relationships in his fiction), and no bearing at all on the second. Given that his public persona is, at best, only mildly informed by his orientation, I do not see any reason for an obituary to make an issue of it.

Now, when The Kids in the Hall's Scott Thompson passes on, if the obits don't mention his homosexuality, then there might be some ulterior motive. :)