Just spent a half hour listening to last week’s BBC Radio documentary about Arthur C Clarke. Summary here, Real Audio recording here. Fascinating stuff; Heather Couper goes to Sri Lanka to interview him on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his Wireless World paper, “Extraterrestrial “Relays”, which paved the way for communications satellites. Contributions also from Clarke’s brother Fred and sf author Stephen Baxter, and extracts from his books. Most memorable bits for me were Clarke’s own modesty in admitting he failed to foresee the silicon chip (though I think he came pretty close, in Imperial Earth) and the banter between Clarke and Asimov at a 1974 public meeting in London:
Clarke: Ladies, gentlemen, and, in case there are any robots or extraterrestrials present, gentlebeings: I’m not going to waste any time introducing Isaac Asimov. That would be as pointless as introducing the Equator, which indeed he is coming to resemble more and more closely.
The rumour that there is a certain rivalry between us should have been put to rest once and for all in my recent book, Report on Planet Three. For those of you foolish enough not to have obtained that small masterpiece, the dedication reads as follows:
In accordance with the terms of the Clarke-Asimov Treaty, the second-best science writer dedicates this book to the second-best science fiction writer.
Asimov: …from here on in, I won’t mention him at all. Let us instead talk about science fiction, which after all is what we both do – I because I am a great writer, and Arthur because he is a stubborn writer.