Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Science-fiction (II)


Yesterday I mentioned another stamps set related to sci-fi. Here it is.

These two stamps have been issued by Sri-Lanka to celebrate 50 years of telecommunication and to pay tribute to Arthur C.Clarke. Clarke (born in 1917) is a British author and inventor, and he is my favourite sci-fi writer. Clarke is the last surviving member of what was sometimes known as the Big Three of science-fiction, which included also Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.
Clarke’s sci-fi work can be classified in the hard science genre, because science and technology take a bog place in his novels, even if sometimes mixed with some religious influence. Most of Clarke’s late novels feature a technologically advanced mankind being confronted by a superior alien intelligence. Clarke’s most famous work is probably the novel and the screenplay of “2001 a space odyssey” (published in 1968) on which he has worked with Stanley Kubrick. This novel was based on “The sentinel” a text that he had written in 1948 for a BBC competition but that was rejected. This text marked a major change in Clarke’s life. Not only because it led to the known success of “2001” but also because it introduced mystical elements in his work that will be present later in all his major books. It is a little bit less known, but two sequels have been written : 2010 Odyssey two (that also became a movie) and 2061 Odyssey three. Also very famous were the series of Rama started with “Rendez vous with Rama” in 1973.

Now back to the stamp. Why a stamp from Sri Lanka would pay tribute to Arthur C.Clarke ? And why would he be associated to 50 years of telecommunication ?
Well. Clarke lives in Sri Lanka since 1956. He has both nationalities : British and Sri-Lankan. Sri-Lanka is sometimes mentioned in his novels.
Then, Clarke’s main contribution to science was the idea that geostationary satellites could be used as telecommunication relays. He published his ideas in Wireless World in 1945; The geostationary orbit is now sometimes known as the Clarke Belt (or Clarke orbit as on the stamps). Now you understand the stamp design.

I discovered the work of Clark in 1989 when reading “Rendez-vous with Rama” and since then I have read almost all his books, except may be some recent ones that he has written in cooperation with other writers.

I promise, tomorrow I’ll go back to more down to earth subjects ;-)

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