EGOGRAM - 2006 of
Sir Arthur C CLARKE
Friends, Earthlings, ETs-- lend me your sensory organs!
As 2005 drew to an end, I couldn't help contrasting it with the
last few days of 2004 when all Hell broke
loose with the devastating Asian Tsunami.
Much of 2005 was spent on recovering from
this massive blow from the sea, and as
we noted on the first anniversary, the
recovery will take more time, effort and
Although the tsunami struck coastal areas even a few kilometres
away from Colombo, I didn't visit any
of the affected areas for several weeks
I just couldn't bear to look at
what had happened to my favourite coastal
towns like Unawatuna and Hikkaduwa on
Sri Lanka's southern coast. It was in
early March that I finally ventured out
on a quick trip. By then, a semblance
of normalcy was beginning to return, but
there were many tell-tale signs of the
trail of destruction left behind by the
The tsunami united the Global Family twice first in grief, and then in solidarity.
The unprecedented outpouring of donations
from all over the world was largely inspired
by the live television coverage of the
disaster's aftermath. I would personally
have preferred a more benign reminder
on how communications satellites bring
us all together.
Indeed, the 60th anniversary of my inventing the communications
satellite (in Wireless World, October
1945) was a key theme for myself during
the year. To mark this, the Arthur C Clarke
Foundation organised a series of events
on both sides of the Atlantic including
a gathering at the Cosmos Club in Washington
DC (which coincided with the Arthur Clarke
Award), and another at the IEE in London.
These events drew many of comsat industry's
leaders from public, private and academic
sectors, some good friends among them.
Although it would have been highly appropriate to join these events
live via satellite, I chose to send video
greetings instead. That was easier for
me to accommodate as I am now very limited
in time and energy owing to my Post Polio.
But this didn't stop me from making encouraging
noises from the sidelines for exciting
new ventures that the Clarke Foundation
embarked on during the year.
The most ambitious among them is the Arthur C. Clarke Center for
Imagination and Opportunity to be built
in Las Vegas, with the participation of
the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The
project, which had been under discussion
for sometime, went public in the Summer,
with a student competition for its design
and supportive coverage in the media.
All that now remains is for US$ 50 million
to be raised for actually putting it up which is the challenge that the Foundation's
dynamic Board of Directors has taken up.
I have every confidence that they will
meet this goal. (After all, that's practically
petty cash for the comsats business
the industry that I helped found
with my 6-page paper for which I was paid
the princely sum of £15 at the time.
I can't remember what I squandered it
I also had good fun doing some major media interviews looking back
at the last six decades and how comsats
have become central nodes in the nervous
system of humankind. In October, BBC Radio
4 ran a half-hour special while BBC Focus
magazine did a 10-page supplement. They
also reissued my 1945 paper in a new,
attractive colour format.
While I have had to seriously curtail my activities in recent years,
I still get involved in a few interesting
projects and worthy causes. I enjoyed
visits by some of my project collaborators including actor/director Morgan Freeman, who is adapting Rendezvous
with Rama, and producer Susan Philips
who plans to film Fountains of Paradise,
a good part of which will take place in
Sri Lanka, hopefully in 2006.
I didn't write any new fiction in the past year, and my last novel
The Last Theorem still remains half-written.
Although I have mapped out the whole story,
I just don't seem to have the energy to
finish it: my agents are still looking
for a co-author who can complete it. Meanwhile,
Stephen Baxter continues to develop our
collaborative Time Odyssey series, and
its second novel Nova came out in 2005.
I did produce two dozen pieces of non-fiction
of my own for a range of print and online
On the awards front, my adopted homeland honoured me twice during
the year. First, the State Literary Council
presented me its highest Sahithyaratna
Award (literally, "Gem of Literature")
for lifetime achievements in English literature.
Then, President Chandrika Kumaratunga
gave me the Lankabhimanya ("Pride
of Lanka"), which is the highest
civilian honour from the government of
Sri Lanka. In December, I received an
honorary doctorate from the International
Space University, which was presented
at a special ceremony at its central campus
in Strasbourg, France. While I accepted
the first two in person in Colombo, a
co-founder of the ISU (Bob Richards) accepted
the last one.
I also lent my name to a new awards scheme in the UK that recognises
excellence in space industry and space
education. I hope 'Arthur Clarke Space
Arthurs -- will become a regular feature
in the coming years. I had great pleasure
announcing a special award to the British
Interplanetary Society during the first
ceremony held in April.
My adopted family - Hector, Valerie, Cherene, Tamara and Melinda
are keeping well. Hector has been
looking after me since 1956, and with
his wife Valerie has made a home for me
at 25, Barnes Place. They have been working
very hard to rebuild the diving operation
that was wiped out by the tsunami. As
the first tourist season after the disaster
kicks off, they are keeping their fingers
crossed. Tamara got married in November
and has since returned to the UK. Melinda who made a surprise appearance at the
Arthur Clarke Award ceremony in DC
is planning to leave for Australia
to study animal science.
Brother Fred, Chris Howse, Angie Edwards and Navam Tambayah look
after my affairs in England. And as they
have done for many years, my agents David
Higham Associates (www.davidhigham.co.uk)
and Scovil, Chichak & Galen Literary
Agency (www.scglit.com) deal with rapacious
editors and media executives.I have given
them a general directive: No reasonable offer will even be considered.
Arthur C Clarke is celebrating His 88th
His adopted family, staff and friends
at 25 Barnes Place in
Colombo on December 17, 2005.
I am also well supported by my staff and take this opportunity
to thank them all:
Executive Officer: Nalaka Gunawardene
Personal Assistant: Rohan De Silva
Secretary: Dottie Weerasooriya
Valets: Titus, Saman & Chandra
Drivers: Lalith & Anthony
Domestic Staff: Kesavan, Ramani, Jayasiri & Murthy
Gardener: Premasiri, Jagath
Cataract surgery in September has considerably improved sight in
my right eye, which allows me to read
again. I plan to have a lens implanted
in my other eye too in the coming year.
Meanwhile, I once again ended the year
amidst a flood of birthday and Seasonal
good wishes from all over the world. I
had my 88th birthday surrounded by family
I hope my long-standing wish for lasting peace in Sri Lanka
would become a reality in 2006.
Arthur C CLARKE
28 December 2005
Tribute for Sir Arthur C. CLARKE's 87th
Rebuilding after Tsunami: Sri Lanka's