Science fiction visionary

Visionary science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke, author of more than 100 books, has died at the age of 90 in Sri Lanka.

Visionary science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke, author of more than 100 books, has died at the age of 90 in Sri Lanka.

Once called "the first dweller in the electronic cottage", his vision of the future, and its technology - popularised in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey - captured the popular imagination.

His writings gave science fiction, a genre often accused of veering towards the fantastical, a refreshingly human and practical face.

His ideas and gadgets engaged his readers because of, not despite, their plausibility. Quite often, his fictional musings formed the basis of what we now see as science fact.

Arthur Charles Clarke was born in Minehead, a town in Somerset in the south-west of England on December 16 1917.

A farmer's son, he was educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton before joining the civil service.

A youthful interest in dinosaurs and Morse code blossomed into a fascination with all things scientific.

During World War II, Clarke volunteered for the Royal Air Force, where he worked in the then highly-secretive, development of radar.

Clarke predicted the advent of communications satellites.

Demobbed at the war's end, he went to King's College, London, where he took a first in mathematics and physics, before becoming a full-time writer in the late 1940s.

He wrote story-lines for the comic-book hero, Dan Dare, inspired Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek and posited Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Beyond this, during the war, he published a paper in which he predicted that, at 22000miles above the Earth's surface, communications satellites would sit in geo-stationary orbit, allowing electronic signals to be bounced off them around the globe.

His vision, soon proved, revolutionised the communications and broadcasting industry.

But it was his creation, with the legendary film director Stanley Kubrick, of 2001: A Space Odyssey, that brought Clarke world-wide fame.

He only married once, to Marilyn Mayfield in 1953. According to Who's Who, the marriage was dissolved in 1964, and Clarke never had children. - BBC

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