Arthur C. Clarke

Timothy Kincaid

March 27th, 2008

clarke.jpgOn March 19, 2008 Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90.

Even if you never read science fiction, there are a handful of household names that are synonymous with the genre, and Arthur C. Clarke is prominent among them. His classics include Childhood’s End, The City and the Stars, and of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I plowed through a good chunk of Clarke’s fiction in my teen years.

But not only was Clarke a contributor of classics, a television host, and a promoter of space exploration, he was also among that class of early sci-fi writers who imagined technology that we take for granted today, including geostationary orbit for satellites in what is now called the Clarke orbit, cell phones, and the internet.

But what I did not know about Clarke, and what was not in most of his obituaries, was his sexual orientation. According to one of Clarke’s correspondents, author Toby Johnson,

He demurred about coming out publicly as gay, he wrote, because he felt this fact would be used to discredit his ideas. He was 61 at the time of Stonewall, already past the sexual prime in which it’s meaningful to identify oneself as gay.

He had a cute quip about not being gay: “At my age now,” he said, “I’m just a little bit cheerful.”

He wrote that he was quite fascinated with the role homosexuals have played down through time as revolutionary thinkers. (In our correspondence, he expressed great interest in C.A. Tripp’s book about Abraham Lincoln as gay.) He kept a private collection of writing which is not to be published until 50 years after his death. I’d wager the world is going to receive the open acknowledgement of his homosexuality and of his theory about gay consciousness as revolutionary come 2058.

Johnson’s story is confirmed by Clarke’s friend, Kerry O’Quinn, publisher of Starlog:

Yes, Arthur was gay – although in his era that wasn’t the term. As Isaac Asimov once told me, “I think he simply found he preferred men.” Arthur didn’t publicize his sexuality – that wasn’t the focus of his life – but if asked, he was open and honest.

It is sad that this luminary was not more open about his orientation, though not surprising considering his generation. And it is discouraging that newspapers couldn’t get beyond his “cheerful” quip to report accurately on his life.

But to those who think that gay people should be exported because “homosexuality is destructive to society” I present a man whose life enriched the world. Now give back your cell phone.

Bruce Garrett

March 27th, 2008

Cell phone…heck…give back everything global communications satellites have given you.

Clarke was my absolute favorite…long before I realized that I am gay, and longer still before I began to wonder if he was…although Imperial Earth should have settled it for me. I’ve never seen straight men write so movingly about an intimate relationship between two men. Jeeze…and at the end of that one…well…I don’t want to give it away for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

I wrote on my own blog that of all the greats of science-fiction he was my favorite…and of all the science-fiction universes I’ve ever wandered through, his were the only ones I would have actually wanted to live in. And it wasn’t for his politics so much as his optimism that the future humankind is brighter then it seems at any given moment…but also his decency. He had a good, a beautiful heart. You see it everywhere in his writing…fiction and non-fiction.

Regan DuCasse

March 28th, 2008

I had only one degree of separation from Arthur C. Clarke. My parents were HUGE fans of his books and I started reading him when I was about eight years old (precocious reader). It is he who saved me in math class. Because my folks took me to JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) and every other astronomy and science center in the Los Angeles area. It was rocket science that finally helped me with the concepts of trig, geometry and calculus. And I credit him, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov with happy childhood dreams of rockets and space stations and trips to beyond.

He is missed….

May he rest in peace, and God speed.

cowboy

March 28th, 2008

Who do I give credit for that wonderful sequence in 2001 A Space Odyssey: The one where the hunky guy jogged around inside their spaceship?

Plus, there HAD to be a special bond between Dave Bowman and Frank Poole…why else would they need to use a tanning booth?

The world will miss both Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. Their works had a major influence on me. Thanks Bruce and Regan for your added insights to this man. Yes, he will be missed.

Paul

March 28th, 2008

“I’d wager the world is going to receive the open acknowledgement of his homosexuality and of his theory about gay consciousness as revolutionary come 2058.”

Drat! I’ll be 101 then if I should live so long.

GM

March 28th, 2008

Fifty years?! No way . . . I want to read this amazing man’s thoughts on the subject now.

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