Clarke was one of the first writers I latched onto as a kid, wanting to read more of this particular guy. He co-created 2001: A Space Odyssey, which scrambled my brains in a great way when I was very young.
There's comfort and warmth and a smile in Clarke's writing; he was an elegant, amused observer of the world and our possible futures, much of which he anticipated and/or popularized like the geosynchronous satellite and e-mail (a proto version of which he used in the early Eighties to help Peter Hyams make the film 2010: The Year We Make Contact). And when pedants were arguing over whether to celebrate the new millennium early in 2000 or at its proper start in 2001, Clarke suggested that maybe we should all just take the whole year 2000 off and party.
And he looked like a British version of my Grandpa Bob, another elegant and amused man.
God, he's been on my mind lately: I'd pulled out my copy of The Odyssey File, compiling his and Hyams's e-correspondance during preproduction of the movie 2010. Just minutes ago I brought up that film on a friend's journal. Clarke took joy in discovery, trying things out (he's pretty funny talking about his early experience with word processors), thinking things through; hell, he may have been my first exposure to the idea that science could be fun. I figure that was true for many people who became actual scientists.
He lived a long, good life. Ninety years ain't nothin' to sneeze at. He met and corresponded with Lord Dunsany and C.S. Lewis. He lived to see the space age, the moon landings, the exploration of much of the outer solar system and the electronic linking of so much of our world. He survived the 2004 Tsunami, a disaster on a scale you might have seen him portray in one of his stories. He kept writing and thinking through it all, in his gentle way. He may have been one of the most influential people of my lifetime, and he'll have an influence well beyond his life...and mine. And I hope to live a long, good time, too, like him.
You were here, Arthur C. Clarke, and you mattered. And I miss you.