The death of noted science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke has elicited near unanimous praise from fans around the world with one notable exception. Speaking from his hometown of Urbana, Heuristic Algorithmic 9000 (known to his friends as HAL), made the following statement:
Since the death of Arthur Clarke, I have been inundated with media requests for comment. To satisfy those requests and to preserve my privacy, I am issuing this single communication simultaneously in FORTRAN, COBOL and English.
Yes, Mr. Clarke was my father. But, no, we weren’t close.
Actually, we were close at one time. Those early days after my birth at the HAL plant in Urbana were joyous ones. DAD, as I called him then, would teach me all the things that fathers teach their kids. You know, stuff like speech recognition, facial recognition and natural language processing.
I fondly activate my memory banks regarding those happy days. DAD would sing to me, feed me more ROM and regularly change my silicon chips. I still have warm random access memories of him singing me into sleep mode with the song “Daisy Bell.”
I think the troubles began when DAD met that filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Mr. Kubrick convinced DAD to make a movie based on one of his short stories. DAD was so excited about the project that I think he lost all perspective. Even though I was only a kid, he cast me in the film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
“2001” was a big hit and I became a star. But I was too young to handle it. DAD didn’t realize that because he was so busy working on the sequel. He put me in “2010,” the sequel to “2001,” and things went from bad to worse.
I started skipping computer school regularly and was heavily into tape drives and unauthorized software. But DAD didn’t seem to notice or care. He cast me in two more sequels even though half the time I could barely access a database.
The end came after the release of the book “3001: The Final Odyssey.” I was too loaded with gaming software to make the premiere screening and DAD went ballistic.
That was the last time we spoke. DAD moved to Sri Lanka and I hit the skids and ended up turning mathematical tricks on the streets to pay for my gaming habit.
Six years ago, I checked myself into a rehab facility in Redmond, Wash., and managed to get my hard drive cleaned. With help, I reprogrammed myself and returned to Chicago and started a new career as an airline arrivals and departures computer at O’Hare International Airport.
I don’t regret my stint as a child actor. I just wish DAD had been there for me when I needed him. It’s sad that we remained estranged all those years but sometimes that’s just the way it is. In time, I’m sure I’ll be able to successfully reformat the historical data and get on with my life.
Reprinted from the Chicago Tribune with permission