Juan Manuel Sabugo: Arthur C. Clarke, 100 years next to him

We have completed 100 orbits around the Sun since Arthur Charles Clarke will be with us with his brilliance, it is already almost 10 that we miss him. He is considered one of “The Big Three” of science fiction along with Asimov and Heinlein. He knew, as few have, to approach the future away from the usual catastrophist who is too easily “malforman” the perception of our accomplishments as a society.

He was born in a poor farm with his three brothers, to the south east of England. As did Newton during his forced retirement in 1666, he spent nights searching the starry sky thanks to a rudimentary telescope made by himself. During that time, they were common journals in which they published stories of science fiction and that the young Arthur devoured without restraint. The germ of his genius was planted, science, and literature; only remained to water it with your innate curiosity and an urge irrefrenablemente free.

Jump to the fame

After his arrival in London he joined the Society Interplanetary British where did his main scientific achievement. This was a result of an internal communication that cristalizaría in an article published in 1945 in the journal Wireles World.


In it he described the possibility of using the orbits geoestacionarias to place satellites that allow communications across the planet. The idea had emerged during his participation in the Second World War as an operator of RADAR in the Royal Air Force. But without doubt what made him world famous was the development for the big screen a script based on one of their stories, 1951, entitled The Sentinel. The director and promoter of the idea was called Stanley Kubrick, and the movie 2001: A space odyssey. The project ran in parallel with the preparation of the novel that would throw themselves almost at once. The rest is now history. Despite this huge success, his literary output reached its zenith with four novels unforgettable: The end of childhood (1953), the city and The stars (1956), The fountains of paradise (1979) or Rendezvous with Rama (1973), his work is most rewarded.

Optimism and confidence

Science fiction, on too many occasions, it has impacted the expectations of a better future. Apocalyptic scenarios mired in the chaos and helplessness, devoid of morality and law, are landscapes, recurring that point, grossly distorting the technology as the cause of all evil and the nature as the only salvation. A paradigmatic example of this manichaeism is the film James Cameron’s Avatar. A paradise where a sweetened and fake natural harmony is disrupted by the greed of the technology companies. Intuition compared to certainty, nature versus technique, science versus superstition.

Arthur C. Clarke

In the world of Arthur C. Clarke technology is the ally of humanity, the tool that allows you to develop in a universe that is not just the Land, it only begins. And next to it, as a whole, the intelligence. Configures even the Universe, by evolution, we allow the replacement of the divinity and transcendence (in some occasion the author has declared a pantheist). There may be other species with intelligence, but their use, rather than competition, leads us questioning our future. Arthur C. Clark tried to explain the universe without the need of a God, but I felt a deep excitement and mystery for humanity, the cosmos, and the life: “I don’t believe in God but I am very interested in him.” Another thing is the religion attributed to him, “one of the great tragedies of humanity,”that “morality has been kidnapped by her.”

As a good scientist the Universe was a cause of astonishment and admiration. Used to quote often to J. B. Haldane: “The universe is not only more amazing than we imagine, it is more amazing than we can imagine.” Perhaps that’s why, familiar with the prospect of interstellar travel, he decided to delve into the mysteries that were somewhat closer: the seabed.

Free soul

It moved in 1956 to the present day Sri Lanka to engage in scuba diving and writing. It was during this time when he shared his life with Leslie Ekanayake that the same Clarke called “a perfect friend for a lifetime”. His homosexuality was not exposed or concealed, is simply not based on her identity. Before, in 1953, he had married the young Marilyn Mayfield from which he separated in 1964: “The marriage was incompatible from the beginning”. In the 80 years his image was once again popular thanks to several tv programs dedicated to the dissemination of scientific information. Their freedom of movement was compromised in 1988 to be forced to use a wheelchair.


He was diagnosed with trauma, post-polio, a disease arising from the polio he suffered in 1962. During the last years received a multitude of awards such as the Hugo award, the Nébula, Knight Bachelor, Sri Lankabhimanya… he Died with 90 years on 19 march 2008 in Colombo.

The science fiction is wonderful. Putting the man in extraordinary situations to show your soul or to theorize about what that is. Crossroads moral as those of Asimov are only possible in this genre. Machines (technology) are the mirror in which to manifest our desires, weaknesses or peculiarities; the tool that will take us to make real what we now believe to be impossible: “Any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic”. Arthur C. Clarke knew as no one manage these rules to make real treaties of humanity. He did not believe in the nostalgic “any past time was better”. It is tiresome to raise speeches pessimistic against the own history and reality. The future, although difficult, thanks to the intelligence of the human being will be improved; and the technology will be our ally. Until now it has always been so. Why is not going to remain so?

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