This is a piece of flash non-fiction that I have submitted to the ‘Spring Break’ competition at brightoncow. It is free to enter, and I urge you to submit something. Head on over to http://www.brightoncow.com to find out more about the competition.
I admire the works of Arthur C Clarke because I have hope for the future. If you put aside the fantastic concepts that are inherent in his works; the fantastical plots, what you are left with is a palpable belief on his part that the future of mankind will be a positive one. Clarke did not envision tomorrow as a distopia, but as a technologically advanced paradise.
In ‘2001’ he envisions the next stage of mankind’s evolution as taking us to a state of pure energy, free of the limitations of our physical bodies, and even our human moral ethics. In ‘The Songs of Distant Earth’ the last seeds of mankind have left the Earth behind to settle on new planets, free of the guilt and destruction that taints our history. In ‘The Fountains of Paradise’ we follow the main character as he struggles to see his project completed; to build a tower to the stars – a space elevator – to enable man’s ascension to the status of a truly space-bound species.
This is not to say that his works were without intrigue or terror – take ‘A Fall of Moondust’ where the passengers of a lunar vehicle are trapped below metres of crushing moondust, slowly running out of air.par
This is what made him the master of science fiction, in my book. He captured my imagination in the way that he could spin a yarn with a high concept, but tell it in ways that were visceral and realistic.
Clarke died in 2008, at the age of 90. He had hoped to live even longer than that. I do not doubt he just wanted to see what would happen over the years to come; will we really ‘make it’ in space? Will we stop fighting each other in an endless succession of wars and finally unite as a species? Will technology advance to the level where we truly see social change?par
I think all of those things are possible. Clarke envisioned mankind, a thousand years from now, living away from the Earth due to the environmental damage we’d wreaked upon it. This is where I hope Clarke’s vision is wrong. I hope that our own story doesn’t head in that direction. But then perhaps he thought it might be a warning; carry on and you won’t be able to live here anymore.
As a seasoned diver and philanthropist, Clarke loved the planet Earth and the natural wonders of Earth’s habitats.
Perhaps he envisioned the future with not only hope for mankinds development and evolution, both biological and psychological… but with a hope that we wouldn’t do what is inherent in our natures and ruin a good thing.
And here is a video of Arthur diving