The great mathematician/physicist/cosmologist died today, after a long and successful career marred only by his long-standing illness.
My own experience with his work comes mostly from his popularized science book A Brief History of Time, which I picked up and read in mass-market pb before I even knew it was supposed to be one of the great unread bestsellers of our time, a claim resurfacing in his obituary and even in this tribute to the book.
Why should it be unread? It seemed to me a lucid and comprehensible explanation of some extremely abstract concepts, an admirable work of its kind. (I also saw the movie adaptation of the book and, much later, the bio-pic about the author.)
I also read two of the other great supposedly unread bestsellers of that period, The Name of the Rose (a novel I found so captivating I carried it around with me for days, including during breaks at work, and as at the time I was working in the monastery-like precincts of a neo-Gothic 1910s university library, the setting was appropriate) and, of course, The Silmarillion. The one I didn't read was The Satanic Verses.
A tribute, then, to the range and lucidity of the mind of Stephen Hawking.