March 18, 2008 / 10:29 PM / 9 years ago

Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke dies

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<p>British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke gestures at his study in his home in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo in this file photo taken January 1, 2002. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at age 90, his secretary said on March 19, 2008. Picture taken January 1, 2002.Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi</p>

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Pioneering science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke, best known for his novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" and his towering influence on the genre, has died in Sri Lanka. He was 90.

"He has passed away. He had a cardio-respiratory attack," said Rohan de Silva, his personal secretary.

British-born Clarke wrote more than 80 books and hundreds of short stories and articles during a career that spanned some seven decades.

In the 1940s Clarke predicted that man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea that experts dismissed as nonsense.

<p>British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke gestures at his study in his home in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo in this file photo taken January 1, 2002. Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at age 90, his secretary said on March 19, 2008. Picture taken January 1, 2002.Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi</p>

When Neil Armstrong landed in 1969, the United States said Clarke "provided the essential intellectual drive that led us to the moon."

On his 90th birthday in December 2007, the wheelchair-bound Clarke recorded a farewell message to his friends, saying in part that he would have liked to see evidence of extraterrestrial life during his lifetime.

Clarke was born in Britain on Dec 16, 1917 and served as a radar specialist in the Royal Air Force during World War Two.

He became involved in the British Interplanetary Society after the war, where he proposed an idea for geostationary satellites as telecommunications relays.

But Clarke remains best known perhaps as the author of "2001: A Space Odyssey," which director Stanley Kubrick made into a film in 1968.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Simon Gardner

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