It’s sad to hear that the great author and futurist Arthur C. Clarke has died. I grew up with his science-fiction novels (2001 and 2010, The City and the Stars, Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama), and the films and comic (Kirby) adaptations of his 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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He had a West Midlands connection, since he served during the war as a technical officer with…

“the RAF at Stratford-upon-Avon during the 1940s, working on early radar and experimental trials of Ground Controlled Approach radar. His novel Glide Path was based on that radar work. During this time he also wrote and published the landmark 1945 technical paper “Extra-terrestrial Relays”, in which he established the principles of satellite communication using satellites in geostationary orbits.”

Although, as a gay man, it’s quite possible he didn’t feel at home in that socially-claustrophobic and insular rural town. Certainly he didn’t seem to bear Stratford much love, since he imagined it destroyed and depopulated in his short story “The Curse” (pub. 1953)…

“The Curse is a dark little story [ set in a ruined ] Stratford-upon-Avon in a post-apocalyptic England. Containing no living characters at all this story is a challenge to the senses”

As well as inventing the idea of orbiting communications satellites, he also invented the idea of real-time wave cancellation to suppress noisy environments (i.e.: your noise-cancelling headphones).