Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Clarkeutus of Borg

Brian J. Noggle on Arthur C. Clarke.

I never dug on the guy that much; he was like the anti-Heinlein, all about that glorious moment when all our intellects would be subsumed into the hive mind and wouldn't that be wonderful?

No, Arthur; no, it wouldn't. I actually rather like my individuality, even if it's just some trick my medulla and my DNA are playing on me behind my back.


og said...

There are a few stories like that, certainly. He was awkward dealing with humans as characters and as individuals. I enjoyed a good deal of his work because his science is usually good. When Email was a pretty new thing I hunted his down (A lot easier to find in the days when teenagers could hack mainframes) and we corresponded briefly. He was self effacing and polite, and talkative, to a total stranger half a world away.

Rumors of him being short in the eyes was what made me drop the correspondence, though I guess those were disproven, supposedly.

Fall of Moondust was great work. Rama was very good. Fountains of Paradise was excellent. Heinlein was a good writer who wrote about science that he often didn't understand. Clarke was a legitimate scientist who also happened to write, though inexpertly. "Glide path" is a very interesting read, and is a pretty accurate account of equipment in common use today which Clarke worked on in it's early infancy.

But who am I to judge. I haven't regularly read SF for almost twenty years.

Bram said...

I really enjoyed "Fountains of Paradise" mainly because I read it while in Sri Lanka after visiting Sigiria and right before climbing Sri Pada.

The rest I agree, Meh. My 13-yer-old son loves Heinlein's juvenile series and is now starting to read old Niven and Drake books. He tried Clarke and was completely bored.

Ken said...

I read Dolphin Island as a kid, and thought it wasn't bad.

Joel said...

The only Clarke I ever remember enjoying without reservation was A Meeting With Medusa which was just freakin' awesome. I read that when it was published new in Playboy in '72 and he was already a has-been. I recently re-read Childhood's End and Imperial Earth and wanted to go piss on his grave. All in all I never understood why he was always mentioned in the same sentence with Asimov and Heinlein.

Will said...

After reading the Rama series, I gave up on him. I kept reading them, wondering when he would get to the point of the whole thing, and decided it didn't have one. Figured it got published due to his name. Really soured me on his writing. There were a few of his books I hadn't read, and I didn't.

He should have put some of his writing effort into patenting his ideas. He might not have been forced to write some of it, just to pay the bills. He was a very bright, inventive scientist, but seemed unable to put it to his own benefit.

Grayson said...

We are dyslexic of Borg.

Your ass will be laminated.

rocinante2 said...

"Rumors of him being short in the eyes was what made me drop the correspondence, though I guess those were disproven, supposedly."

Og, to what do you refer in this comment?

Rick C said...

I had to google it to verify, because I'd heard the rumors too, but "pedophile," basically.

roland said...

He was rumored to be uncle badtouch. I never looked into it. I read a few of his books back when I was a kid and read anything what wasn't red hot or nailed down. He's no Heinlein, but the science was interesting.

Sport Pilot said...

I actually met Arthur C. Clark when I was eighteen years old and spoke with him as he was autographing books. I pointedly asked him if he believed in the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. His negative response surprised me and sort of soured the experience. As I recall all of these years afterwards he was a bit of an arrogant condescending jerk.
That was also my first experience of having tape recorders jammed in my face while I was speaking with an author and asking him questions. And no, I’ve never been to a Sci-Fi convention. Only later in my law enforcement career did I again encounter nobodies wanting to shove a microphone or cassette recorder in my face.
At that time I couldn’t fathom the possibility of a successful Sci-Fi writer being a flamer…but hell I was a naïve small city boy then. Life is ever so much more entertaining than fiction and watching people in publics better then television.

Sam's Hideout said...

One thing to keep in mind, a lot of these older SF writers matured (as writers) in the age of the SF short story and often their best works are shorter than novels. Clarke had a number of great short stories, i.e. "The Star", "Superiority", "Rescue Party", "Hide and Seek", "Transit of Earth", "A Meeting with Medusa".

These SF writers transitioned to mostly or entirely novels as the market opened up because the money was much better.

mikee said...

Something to remember is that anyone writing SF in the 1960s and 1970s had a US cultural background of extremism in individuality to work with, or against.

To write about individuals coalescing into a whole, then, required inclusion from Timothy O'Leary to Allen Dulles, from the Chicoms to the Latin-supporting Roman Catholics, from hippies to Marines, finding a way to coordinate their ideas and complement each others' strengths. This was a heretical idea running against the supposed cultural stream, for the time.

That said, Asimov's Mule and Heinlein's Crazy Years were scarier to me than Clarke's rubbish.