I can’t believe Arthur C. Clarke is dead. He is one of the most influential writers I’ve ever read, whose books have become part of my life. His book Rendezvous with Rama was probably the first that forced me to think outside of what my eyes see. Space Odyssey 2001 brought me to far away places and situations and made me think of things that a city boy like me would never have thought of otherwise.
Strangely enough, my most memorable is his story ‘The Deep Range’, which talked about farming whales as if they were cattle, eventually ending world hunger. After which at some point, religious influences caused the characters in the book to rethink their need for meat, and coincided with scientific advances that allowed for meat alternatives that were indistinguishable in every way from the real thing. I remember the main character’s acceptance of this difficult fact start to seed in their psyche, eventually leading them to acceptance.
That one story formed a lot of my initial thoughts re a number of social issues in a lot of ways, primarily, religious acceptance (the religious leaders in that book weren’t Catholics, and I knew nothing but at the time), and how difficult it is to open people’s eyes to qualified truth in the face of long standing tradition (accepting meat alternatives in lieu of an established ‘honorable’ tradition in killing animals for their meat, no matter how ‘dignified’ killing them were).
Many decades after I read that book, the world is now grappling with the same things he talked about in areas like alternative energy sources and yes, acceptance of others’ religious beliefs, again testing long standing tradition. At the end of the book, the main character, after seeing his grandson off to space (I think), winked into the sky as if to Higher Being (or Beings), in a way saying ‘we’re getting there’. Saying how slowly but surely, the human race is starting to accept one another and learn to live within the boundaries its environment allows itself to, without necessitating the need to kill each other for the most superficial of reasons and destroy his surroundings in his never ending thirst to conquer all.
Yep, all from one story, and one author. He must be very happy now, finally unbound by this planet. Now he can see for himself all those things he imagined and wrote about in his books.
Thank you for your stories, Mr. Clarke.