Gygax, now Clarke, next whom?

As they say, deaths come in three. First Gary Gygax and now science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, aged 90. I rather thought he would outlast all of us.

While Gygax informed by geeky childhood, Clarke tapped my imagination. Did anyone else read the short story “The Nine Million Names of God” (in an anthology of the same name) about a computer doing divine work in a Buddhist monastery? Inspired me as a young man.

So while out of courtesy I won’t opine about where Clarke is now — obviously I have my own ideas — I can still think of the geosynchronous satellites he first envisioned, looking down from on high. . . .

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. Neil Gaiman also linked that particular story from his blog. I read the news, and wondered if he was pleased with human progress on what had come to pass with computers at the end of his life, or if we were still far from catching up to his vision.

  2. I must admit that I was more struck by Roger Zelazny’s untimely death. With Clarke, I had the feeling that he was always telling the same story in different situations. My question is: in this era of movie digital effects and videogames, who remains in the area of SF novels (and has not moved to fantasy)? OK, W. Gibson, Orson S. Card (if I can forget his passion about Mormonism)… any others out there?

  3. Jaume did get me thinking about contemporary science-fiction. As a high school and college student, I became a heavy reader of Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein. As a graduate student I enjoyed the science fiction of Ursula LeGuine (particularly her gender-bending masterpiece, LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS). But lately I find most of the new science fiction available to be overly immitative of Star Wars, or Star Trek; or I find it too blurred with fantasy-fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy fantasy novels, but again I find too much of what is available to be immitative of Tolkien.

    So who do I read now? I hate to feel as if I’ve completely outgrown these kinds of immaginative fiction, and their tradition of thought provoking literature. But very little that I find seems fresh and provocative.

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