March 19th, 2008
10:05 AM ET

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

I can't think of Arthur C. Clarke without thinking of stars.

Arthur C. Clarke passed away early Wednesday. The author was 90.

It's not just the presence of stars in his work, tales of space and time such as "Childhood's End," "Rendezvous with Rama" and - of course - "2001: A Space Odyssey." It's in two lines, from two different stories, that never fail to give me chills:

  • "Overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out." ("The Nine Billion Names of God")
  • "The thing's hollow - it goes on forever - and - oh my God! - it's full of stars!" ("2001: A Space Odyssey")

Both lines, in what they suggest about the universe and the infinite, were the hook for a lifetime of reading.

I am a reader because of Arthur C. Clarke. He was among my earliest favorite authors. He was an inspiring guide, because he was always asking, demanding, beseeching (in his matter-of-fact British way) you to think. (See our explainer on the life of Arthur C. Clarke.)

Last night, when I read of his death, I went in search of my copy of "2001." I couldn't find it; it seems to have vanished somewhere into the beyond. Perhaps it's in a parallel universe (one in which I unpacked some of the several boxes of books up in the attic). That would only be appropriate.

Mr. Clarke, thank you for your inspiration and your imagination. You may have returned to the elements now, but your spirit will always be among the stars.

- Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer


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