Arthur C. Clarke passed away a few months ago, but that’s no reason new interviews with him can’t keep popping up. SciFi.com posted one yesterday that was conducted in various installments eight or nine years ago, in which Clarke talks a fair bit about the people he has known and counted among his friends and influences. My favorite anecdote is this one:
Walter Cronkite is a man I’ve always admired, since we started working together in the 1960s, I think, when I joined him and Wally Schirra on the Apollo coverage. Walter is, I think, exactly as he appears to be, a real thoroughly nice man. I’ve had the pleasure of showing him around Sri Lanka and taking him for a ride in my hovercraft. He once took me for a trip in his sailboat, off Martha’s Vineyard, and when we got back to land I said, “Walter, I now understand the feelings of the man who said why should you go to all this trouble when you can get exactly the same sensation by standing in a cold shower and tearing up hundred dollar bills.” Today, thousand dollar bills! I was happy to meet him in the Hotel Chelsea in October of 1999—he hasn’t changed a bit!
I had no idea Clarke had a hovercraft — though a bit of Googling turns up the fact that Clarke acquired one because he “was so convinced wheels were on the way out.” Somehow the image of a British intellectual riding around in one of those things strikes me as a bit funny, but in the case of a scientifically and technologically minded person such as Clark, also very appopriate.