I've spent an awful lot of my life -- in retrospect -- pondering Clarke's speculations and meanderings: wonderful stuff. "9 Billion Names" is one of the most perfect short stories ever written: efficient (his writing was almost always efficient), complex, funny, striking and emotional.
I mentioned Clarke's death to my World History students yesterday, noting that SF like Clarke's is a kind of historical speculation (this is one of my favorite themes) and that the best way to not be surprised about the future is to spend some time thinking seriously about it. I quoted Clarke's Laws and pointed out that the present is the best possible time for us to live in, and the future is our natural destination. An odd position, if you think historians are nostalgists, but most of us aren't; we know the past too well to idolize it.
Ozarque notes that you can read the story here.
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