At 90, sci-fi guru Clarke yearns for E.T., peace

Sun Dec 16, 2007 3:47am EST
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By Simon Gardner

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Turning 90 on Sunday, British science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke has three birthday wishes: For E.T. to call, for man to kick his oil habit and for peace in his adoptive Sri Lanka.

Marking his "90th orbit of the sun," the prolific author and theorist who was one of the first to suggest the use of satellites orbiting the earth for communications, would like to be remembered foremost as a writer -- and predicts commercial space travel will one day be commonplace.

"If I may be allowed just three wishes ... I would like to see some evidence of extraterrestrial life. I've always believed that we're not alone in the universe, but we're still waiting for E.T. to call us or give us some kind of sign," he said in a video posted on Web site

"Secondly, I would like to see us kick our current addiction to oil and adopt clean energy sources," he added. "Climate change has now added a new sense of urgency... We can't allow coal and oil to slowly bake our planet."

And thirdly, he turns to Sri Lanka, where he has lived for the past 50 years, written many of his more than 80 books and received the Indian Ocean island nation's top civilian honor in 2005 for his contributions to science and technology and his commitment to his adopted country.

"I've been living in Sri Lanka for 50 years, and half that time I've been a sad witness to a bitter conflict that divides my adopted country, and dearly wish to see lasting peace established in Sri Lanka as soon as possible," Clarke said.

Around 70,000 people have been killed since 1983 amid a civil war between the state and Tamil Tiger guerrillas, which continues to rage, with well over 5,000 people killed since early last year alone in near-daily land and sea battles, bombings and air raids.

Born in England in 1917, Clarke first came to the island in the 1950s for scuba diving and said he became a resident after he "fell in love with the place."   Continued...

<p>Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke signs copies of his books at The Galle Literary Festival January 14 2007. REUTERS/Buddhika Weerasinghe</p>