Celebrating Arthur C. Clarke 100th Birthday

Today would have been the 100th birthday of futurist, science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke, best known for his screenplay (with director Stanley Kubrick), “2001: A Space Odyssey”, inventing the concept of the communications satellite, and shedding tears on TV (with US commentator Walter Cronkite) when the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon. He earned the title “Prophet of the Space Age”.

Tales of the Radio Flyer Cover

I spent a day with Clarke in his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 1994, watching him redesign the surface of Mars on a primitive computer, having long chats about everything under the sun, and interviewing him for a documentary I was producing on the future of travel. Following are excerpts from my upcoming book “Tales of the Radio Flyer” and a video memorial I put together upon his death in 2008. 

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Sri Lanka: As Green as it Gets

The video takes you from the sea at Negombo to Vil Ulyana , a stunning eco-friendly resort on the plain near the rock fortress Sigiria, with its lusty lady cave paintings, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Polonnaruwa, the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy, a look at ficus the size of a house, then up into the mountains at Hunas Falls and the tea plantatons of Nuwara Eliya. 

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Arthur C. Clarke’s Sri Lanka

“It is India without the hassle.”
Arthur C. Clarke

I could see what he meant about his adopted country. The people are fine featured, well educated, and it doesn’t take five of them to complete a simple task. You see poverty but it doesn’t grate at your conscience in scenes of maimed beggars. And once out of the capital city of Colombo, the world dissolves into a lush green dream. Banana and pineapple, teak forests, queues of brightly colored umbrellas bobbing through rice fields. Elephants blocking traffic.

Sri Lanka has some of the best protected wildlife preserves in the world. The first recorded one dates back to the 3rd Century B.C.

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