Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008
I was always a huge Clarke fan, which is perhaps not surprising. I'm male and slightly nerdy. It seems like Clarke's books would be much more interesting to men than women - I'm have no evidence that that's true, but it seems like it would be. He was my first favorite author - I first discovered him in the mid-1980s, when I was 13 or so. The first Clarke book I read was Rendezvous With Rama, and I quickly devoured more of his work: 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: Odyssey Two, 2061: Odyssey Three, The Songs of Distant Earth, The Ghost of the Grand Banks, Childhood's End, The Fountains of Paradise, plus a bunch of short stories. I fell behind reading them when I moved on to college and discovered other great authors. Clarke kept writing, and he died with over 100 books on his résumé. I think Rendezvous With Rama and The Fountains of Paradise are my two favorite novels, but his books from the 1950s, '60s, and '70s are excellent. My absolute favorite Clarke works are two short stories - "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Star." (You can read them at those links - they're short!) Those are two of my favorite short stories by any author, by the way.
Clarke was a true visionary, and it's amazing to see how much of what he predicted seems possible now. Read an Arthur C. Clarke book today in tribute!
(This just in: Ivan Dixon has died at the age of 76. Dixon, of course, starred in Hogan's Heroes in the 1960s, but I occasionally see his name as the director of some Magnum, P. I. episodes. I always liked Kinch. He always seemed to be the most competent of the prisoners. LeBeau, Carter, and Richard Dawson were buffoons, but Kinch knew what he was doing, man!)