Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Human Error

"These kinds of problems have cropped up before, and they have always been due to human error."  -- HAL 9000

I'm not sure Arthur C. Clarke would want to be remembered, or eulogized, by a quote from 2001, but it's the only one I can think of off-hand, and fits that first thought you sometimes have when you hear someone has died:  That can't be right.

For years, despite being an avowed sci-fi fan, I mostly read tie-in novels -- Star Trek, Babylon 5, X-Files, and the like.  The few sci-fi books I'd read just hadn't captured my interest.

Turns out, when it comes to my reading material, I like hard sci-fi.  Science-based stuff.  The probable made possible.

His was some of the first I read, after I'd discovered that Fahrenheit 451 just didn't do it for me (the message was chilling; the book...meh).

I started, amazingly enough, with 2001.  There was an excerpt from it as a training passage for Dragon Naturally Speaking, which came installed on Sparky Junior.   Most of his novels were riveting -- Rendezvous with Rama, for one; some of his sequels were...meh, not so much.  His collaborations with Stephen Baxter were excellent, and led me to Stephen Baxter's solo work -- my favorite of which being The Timeships...which, in turn, led me to read The Time Machine.

It's sad, in a way, that Arthur C. Clarke is mainly being mentioned in reports of his death, as the acclaimed science fiction writer.

He was also a very intelligent man, who is credited with the idea of a space elevator (for which there is now a prize) and with spreading the notion of a communications satellite.  He'd written as many scientific papers as novels.

For the sci-fi community, it's a sad day.  I think I'll start to re-read 2001 over the break.

(Incidentally, for those of you who have seen -- and puzzled over -- the movie, the book makes it make much more sense...the two were written concurrently.)

Unfortunately, the only other quote I can come up with is, "Open the pod bay doors, HAL."

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