My recent podcast interview with Paul Davies on SETI includes a reference to SF author Arthur C. Clarke. When Clarke died two years ago, I wrote an appreciation of him in the Wall Street Journal. A few years beforehand, when another prominent author had passed away, my editor at the Journal asked if I could write an obituary. I declined, on the grounds that I didn’t know a lot about the guy. “Call me when Arthur C. Clarke dies,” I said. It was a grim command and I half regretted saying it. But I did get the call, even though my editor claims not to remember the earlier conversation.
There’s one glitch in the piece, a redundant line about “a Martian crater on Mars.” I had originally written either “a Martian crater” or “a crater on Mars” and wanted to switch to the other–I don’t recall precisely which, though it was probably a desire to change the former to the latter because the sentence flows a little more smoothly with the latter, even though it contains an extra word. Anyway, it’s an example of why a minor edit, made right before a deadline, sometimes isn’t worth the hassle.
Other than that, I’m happy with the piece. After years and years of reading Clarke, I had just a few hours to churn it out. It’s almost as if I had planned on writing it.