Arthur C. Clarke - R.I.P. - 1917 - 2008

Bill Loguidice's picture

Do these things really happen in threes? First Gary Gygax, now Arthur C. Clarke. Of course Mr. Clarke was 90, going on 91, so it was certainly a longer life than Mr. Gygax had (or Clarke's writing contemporaries, like Isaac Asimov).

He was of course famous in the mainstream and certainly beloved in the "geek" community for a variety of reasons. I previously posted a bit about his involvement with early telecomputing. His books inspired several early games as well, most notably individual titles for the ColecoVision (action) and Coleco Adam (hybrid text adventure), and a text and graphics adventure from Telarium/Trillium.

Whether you believe in the concept of heaven or not, the best you can do in this world, the here and now, is leave your mark in as positive a way as possible. All told, Clarke probably did that and more.

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Matt Barton
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Agree and disagree
Catatonic wrote:

The man is dead and his legacy should be his great works of writing, not his personal life.

I agree to a certain extent, but on the other hand I enjoy learning more about the people who bring us such great art. It is a pity, for instance, that we know so little about Homer, Shakespeare, and so on. I'd love to know more about their personal lives, even if I can appreciate their work as-is.

For instance, I was very surprised to learn about the creator of M.U.L.E. being a transgendered individual, or that the leader singer of Judas Priest was gay. I remember being a kid reading Dragonlance and wondering incessantly whether Tracy Hickman was male or female. I finally decided that it must be a she. Imagine my surprise, years later, to discover Tracy is very much a guy! That kind of thing makes an impression on how you think.

No such discoveries affect my appreciation for their work, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

I don't think many people would hate Clarke if it turned out he was gay, but I've no doubt many would hate his acts if he was a criminal. I did some google searches earlier and came across all manner of crazy allegations, but I can't say I believe any of them. The only thing that gives me pause is that so many other celebrities who moved to Sri Lanka turned out to be pedophiles. Gary Glitter springs to mind, naturally, but the place is infamous for its child sex rings. Funny, too, that Michael Jackson should have moved to Vietnam, since that is mentioned in that article as well.

Hell, though, for all I know Clarke may have been a leading fighter of that crap.

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Bill Loguidice
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Public Life and Public Accomplishment - Intertwined
Catatonic wrote:

The man is dead and his legacy should be his great works of writing, not his personal life.

I agree with Matt. As a public and legendary figure, it is the whole person we are interested in, work and all. If you don't want to be such a person, then you don't put yourself out there. I'm not talking about prying, I'm talking about getting a deeper understanding for a person's motivations and challenges. That can make you appreciate the work all the more. On the flip-side, if there's something deeply negative about the person you don't like, why not let it affect your appreciation for their work? If he were a pedophile, I'd have a hard time appreciating his stuff.

I'm presently reading the Einstein biography from Walter Isaacson on my Sony Reader and knowing about Einstein's personal life and motivations and influences and ups and downs certainly gives me a greater understanding and appreciation for his accomplishments and failures. In his case, it goes hand-in-hand. In kind, I'm fascinated by many aspects of Clarke's life and work, so would love to know more, feeling it would enhance my enjoyment of it all, with the one caveat being the pedophilia, assuming that were confirmed.



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Catatonic
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I guess I just don't like to

I guess I just don't like to dig into personal lives much. It can be a real let down. I did read a recent biog of Houdini though, he was a cool guy!

Bill Loguidice
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Personal Lives of the Elite
Catatonic wrote:

I guess I just don't like to dig into personal lives much. It can be a real let down. I did read a recent biog of Houdini though, he was a cool guy!

You're absolutely right--it can definitely affect your appreciation of an individual one way or another. I mentioned Asimov earlier. When I read his posthumous biography, I became disappointed in him personally. I still appreciate his work, but it certainly didn't enhance my enjoyment of him. With the Einstein book I mentioned, it enhanced my appreciation for his accomplishments, even though his personal life was a mess. Lots of variables... I guess you just don't know how it will affect you until you find out the info, which is why I'm generally for it...



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Matt Barton
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asimov
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I mentioned Asimov earlier. When I read his posthumous biography, I became disappointed in him personally. I still appreciate his work, but it certainly didn't enhance my enjoyment of him.

Ok, now I'm curious. What was it that was so disappointing?

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Bill Loguidice
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Romeo Asimov
Matt Barton wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I mentioned Asimov earlier. When I read his posthumous biography, I became disappointed in him personally. I still appreciate his work, but it certainly didn't enhance my enjoyment of him.

Ok, now I'm curious. What was it that was so disappointing?

It's been a long time since I last read it, but if I remember correctly it was mostly him cheating on his first wife and being ridiculously full of himself, like he was some modern day Casanova or something (bragging about his conquests in his various dalliances). Many critics of Asimov's sci-fi-specific work points to his inability to create very "human" or realistic characters in his books. How he treated certain people in his life seems to indicate he wasn't necessarily very empathic with others, which may have been why he couldn't write nuanced characters well. With that said, I never had a problem with his characters being superficial (I never noticed) and again, he was such an amazingly prolific writer, that I "understand" why he suffered in other areas. Doesn't mean I like it, though.



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Hammer
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Clarke games

I wanted to mention that there was another game that Clarke himself appears to have been heavily involved in - the 1990s FMV game "Rama", by Sierra. Actually a pretty good game, and Clarke appears in the game as himself, among other things.

There was a discussion about Clarke on the game preservation SIG of the IGDA, to try to determine whether or not he should be memorialized among the ranks of the game developers, or whether he was essentially a sci fi novel writer who just happened to be marginally associated with gaming...

Matt Barton
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authors and games
Hammer wrote:

There was a discussion about Clarke on the game preservation SIG of the IGDA, to try to determine whether or not he should be memorialized among the ranks of the game developers, or whether he was essentially a sci fi novel writer who just happened to be marginally associated with gaming...

It's interesting how so many SF authors indulged in game making. Besides Clarke, there's William Gibson and of course Douglas Adams, and on the fantasy side, Raymond E. Feist. I'm sure there are dozens of others. I agree, though, the big question is to what extent they were involved in making the game and whether they feel the end product really represented their vision. I thought Rendezvous with Rama was a great game at the time, though I doubt I'd be moved to play it today. I'd rather read the novel for the third time. :)

I was also stunned to learn how old-fashioned SF authors can be when it comes to technology. As late as the 2000s, all three of the ones I met (Piers Anthony, Harry Harrison, and Joe what's his name) were all either using antiquated typewriters or writing their manuscripts by hand. I think at least Piers was experimenting with computers. I thought it was quite amusing how little they seemed aware of the web and its potential; they seemed to see it more as a threat than anything.

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