My Close Encounter with Sir Arthur

Sir Arthur Sir Arthur C. Clarke

In the early 1970's I was working at a radio station, KFMB, in San Diego, California. The station hosted a talk show featuring guests, famous and infamous, giving interviews on whatever they were famous (or infamous) for. When I heard Arthur C. Clarke was going to be a guest, I couldn't have been more excited. His books, most notably, Childhood's End, had shaped my early interest in science fiction - and writing in general. (Years later, the cycling spaceship in my book Hello Mars, I named the I.S.S. Clarke.)

I had just purchased a copy of Profiles of the Future and was excited to hear about this famous futurist's vision. I brought my copy into the station the morning of the program and handed it to the host. Clarke came in and gave an interesting, though rather by-the-book, interview - San Diego was just one stop on his national book tour for Rendezvous With Rama - and I imagined he was gettng a little tired. After the show, Clarke graciously signed my book, and was on to the next stop on his publicity tour. I left the station after my shift and left the book on the host's desk. When I came in the next day, the book was gone. Someone had taken it. I never found out who, and I never saw it again.

Fast forward thirty-plus years. It's December of 2007. I've finished negotiation on the contract to produce The City and the Stars audio book. The final contract comes in the mail. I tear it open, and there it is. I finally have Sir Arthur C. Clarke's autograph!