The website AsiaObscura is a gonzo travelogue curated by Andy Deemer, a writer, world traveler and sometimes movie director and producer (“Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead”). Celebrating the lesser known aspects of the Asian world, AsiaObscura is the kind of site where you can find the disturbing (Culinary abortions like Philadelphia Cheesesteak Ice Cream and entries on the improbable popularity of Nazi regalia in some corners of China), surreal (bars staffed by monkeys, European pirate ship exhibits in Japan) and occasionally sublime (Pictures of religious statuary, galleries of bootleg but completely inspired hand-drawn movie posters).
Besides having a great eye for the deeply weird, Deemer is something of a science fiction aficionado, having written a novel (The Stormglass Protocol) with author Tim Pratt. Like a lot of us SF fans, Pratt is a fan of the late Arthur C. Clarke, who died in 2008 at age 90. Clarke was a British citizen but, like Deemer, loved Asia and lived the last few years of his life in Colombo, Sri Lanka. As it happened, Deemer was spending some time in Colombo, and decided to go pay homage to the much admired author by traveling to his home and snapping a few pictures. He got a lot more than that! Thanks to a well-placed “tip” to a receptive security guard, Deemer and his companions were granted access to Clarke’s home office. What he found was incredible.
Clarke’s office seems to have been left as a time capsule, with apparently nothing changed since the author’s death. Deemer and friends were given the run of the place, offering them ample opportunity to marvel at Clarke’s extensive library of books, DVDs and VHS tapes. As you can imagine, he owned a healthy collection of science fiction films and scientific footage, but there were some surprises mixed in as well: “Da Ali G Show” and “Fame” among them. Clarke’s office also contained his personal knick-knacks as he left them: Several dog figurines, some old awards, photos and posters. Like any respectful traveler, Deemer took nothing but pictures and left everything the way that he found it, and the pictures are really worth seeing.
Deemer acted responsibly, but what about the next traveler? Will he or she be as respectful? It would be a shame to see Clarke’s personal effects make their way into the backpacks of roving travelers or onto eBay rather than into a museum or university collection. Hopefully, Clarke’s estate will make sure that his belongings are better protected in the future.