By Dennis McLellan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 3:56 p.m., PDT
BORN: Monday, 12-16-1929, Minehead, ENGLAND
DIED: Tuesday, 3-18-2008, Colombo, SRI LANKA
SRI LANKA – Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who peered into the heavens with a homemade telescope as a boy and grew up to become a visionary titan of science fiction best-known for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick in writing the landmark film "2001: A Space Odyssey," has died. He was 90.
The British-born Clarke, who lived in Colombo, Sri Lanka, for decades, died early today after experiencing breathing problems, an aide, Rohan De Silva, told the Associated Press.
Clarke, a former farm boy who was knighted for his contributions to literature, wrote more than 80 fiction and nonfiction books (some in collaboration) and more than 100 short stories -- as well as hundreds of articles and essays.
Among his best-known science-fiction novels are "Childhood's End," "Rendezvous With Rama," "Imperial Earth" and, most famously, "2001: A Space Odyssey."
"It's better to be recognized for one thing, especially something of which I'm quite proud, than not to be recognized at all," Clarke told The Times in 1982. Although he never intended to write a sequel to "2001," he wrote three: "2010: Odyssey Two," "2061: Odyssey Three" and "3001: The Final Odyssey."
Clarke, who was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in 1986, won innumerable international awards for his fiction and scientific writing.
"Rendezvous with Rama," his 1973 novel about a space probe sent to explore an enormous celestial object speeding through the solar system that turns out to be a mysterious alien spacecraft, was one of Clarke's greatest critical successes. It won the prestigious Nebula, Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, as well as the British Science Fiction Associate Award, the Locus Award and the Jupiter Award.
Clarke was not only known as one of the 20th century's most prolific science-fiction writers but one of the best-grounded scientifically, with a remarkable record of foreseeing future technologies. Indeed, he was known as "the godfather of the telecommunications satellite."
A radar pioneer in the Royal Air Force during World War II, Clarke wrote a 1945 article in Wireless World magazine in which he outlined a worldwide communications network based on fixed satellites orbiting Earth at an altitude of 22,300 miles -- an orbital area now often referred to as the Clarke Orbit.
Clarke's seminal article, for which he received $40, was published two decades before Syncom II became the world's first communications satellite put into geosynchronous orbit in 1963.
For pioneering the concept of communications satellites, Clarke received a number of honors, including the 1982 Marconi International Fellowship and the Charles A. Lindbergh Award.
Deemed a scientific visionary, Clarke also foretold an array of technological notions in his works such as space stations, moon landings using a mother ship and a landing pod, cellular phones and the Internet.
"Nobody has done more in the way of enlightened prediction," science fiction author Isaac Asimov once wrote.
"I'd say he was the major hard science fiction writer -- that is the writer of science fiction that is scientifically scrupulous -- in the second half of the 20th century," UC Irvine physics professor Gregory Benford, an award-winning science fiction author who collaborated with Clarke on the 1990 science-fiction novel "Beyond the Fall of Night," told The Times in 2005.
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