Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction writer who wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and a multitude of other works, died today at the age of 90. When I was much younger, I used to really enjoy science fiction. I still do, but not to the same degree. Clarke and Isaac Asimov have always been my favorite writers of that genre. Along with his numerous novels, Clarke has written several short stories as well, my favorite of which is entitled "The Star." It can be hard to find but is a wonderful read. It tells the story of a Jesuit Priest aboard a space vessel that has just discovered the remains of a dead world. The planet, knowing its demise was eminent, spent years and years ferrying examples that would show the best of its civilization to a sort of time capsule on the planet at the farthest fringe of its solar system. The cause of the end of their world was the explosion of their star, their sun, into a super nova. So they took all these things to this farthest planet in the hopes that, once the sun exploded, the last planet would remain. They then built a mile high monolith to attract the attention of anyone who would some day find them, as did our protagonist, this Jesuit Priest. The Priest, also a scientist, leads the excavation of the time capsule. There he discovers proof that the civilization that had been destroyed had been beautiful and at peace for 10,000 years, He weeps to think how much mankind could have learned from them. However, he learns something extremely troubling to the priest side of him, something that shakes him to his very core. After carefully calculating the time it would have taken for the light of the super nova to reach our own planet, he discovers this - that the star that exploded and annihilated this civilization was none other than the Star of Bethlehem. He can't reconcile how his god could have destroyed this peaceful world simply to announce the birth of his own son.

Well...now you don't need to read it, do you? I always loved that story, and it's a sad day to say goodbye to such a visionary writer.

Anthony Minghella also died today. The director, known best for his work on The English Patient and Cold Mountain, died of a hemorrhage following an operation for cancer of the tonsils and neck.. He was only 54. I don't know what it is about 2008, but they're dropping like flies.


Blogger Diane said...

The Star sounds like an awesome story - I love books that make you think . . .

I'm with Elaine Benes on the English Patient - hated it!

7:30 AM  

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