Another master, gone. Score one for mediocrity, for mass production, for posers and pretenders. Too bad the average schlub only knows 2001: A Space Odyssey from the film...and even then, all they know is five notes from the movie score. No one knows the marvel of the novel, the themes--melding sci fi, philosophy and religion. Yes, religion. Not the wing nut evangelical stuff, or the jihadi perversions of Islam or the dogma of the Vatican or the insouciance of conservative Judiasm. Oh much more primodial than that: there is something bigger than ouselves "out there"--you just don't need a preacher or imam or rabbi to tell you what it is. Clarke was 90 years old, stricken with polio-related and other critical maladies--and yet still writing. As with Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury or even sista Octavia Bulter and weirdo Ursula LeGuin, Clarke's imagination is responsible for literary conventions that have migrated to popular culture (again, beyond sci fi). I was heartened, at least, when my text-messaging, Rihanna-listening 19 year old niece on my wife's side commented: "Didn't he, like, invent the [telecommunications] satellite?" There is hope, Arthur--see?
He lived in on a lush Sri Lankan tea plantation yet kept himself plugged into the western world; he wasn't a fan of Thatcher, Reagan or Bush/Cheney yet found folks such as Al Gore and Desmond Tutu "gimmicky." I think we all should read Childhood's End, and heed its themes.
Tell the Monolith we said hi, Arthur...and we'll be a part of it soon.