By Bill Higgins: As the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of Arthur C. Clarke’s birth, allow me to share a photocopy I recently rediscovered.
In 1977 my college SF club, the Michigan State University Science Fiction Society, noted that Clarke’s 60th birthday was approaching. Jim Ransom volunteered to write a letter of greeting and mail it to Colombo, Sri Lanka.
To our delight, Clarke sent a postcard in reply, dated on his birthday, December 16, 1977. He wrote:
Thanks for nice greeting!
Herewith earth end of my next (&last) novel THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE.
All good wishes
Arthur C Clarke
The postcard pictured Sigiriya Rock, a historic fortress where King Kasyapa built his palace in the 5th Century AD.
I kept a photocopy; I wonder if Jim Ransom kept the postcard, which turns 40 this year.
As for the plug for his upcoming book, Clarke did in 1979 publish The Fountains of Paradise and it does indeed feature a fictionalized version of King Kasyapa and Sigiriya Rock, as well as a space elevator.
Science fiction writers are notoriously inaccurate at prophecy, however; Clarke may have foreseen the Space Age and the Information Age, but he was wrong about The Fountains of Paradise being his final novel. He went on to publish eighteen more novels before passing away in 2008.