Sci-fi "titan" Clarke buried in Sri Lanka

Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:56am EDT
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By Rob Taylor

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Visionary science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke was buried on Saturday in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, where the nation paused for an international "titan" it had adopted as its own.

British-born Clarke, best known for his work on the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," died aged 90 of respiratory complications and heart failure, which doctors linked to the post-polio syndrome that for years kept him wheelchair-bound.

"We feel so privileged that you left your mark on us. Your footprint will never fade. If anything, it will only magnify what we do," Tamara Ekanayake, who grew up at Clarke's Colombo home and whose family he adopted, told mourners.

Close family and friends wept and threw yellow roses onto his body in a final gesture of respect as it lay on a white bed beneath curved elephant tusks to music from the Space Odyssey movie before burial at Colombo's main cemetery.

His brother Fred and sister Mary watched on as hundreds of monks, mourners and sci-fi pilgrims clasped hands in prayer for a man who preferred the hard fact of science to organized religion.

"I do not think we will see another like him for another million years," said teacher A.S.M Munawwar, who traveled from Sri Lanka's east clutching a signed copy of one of Clarke's books.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who this week called Clarke a "prophet," asked Sri Lankans to observe a minute's silence for the island's most distinguished foreigner as newspapers mourned the "final voyage of a titan."

Clarke left written instructions that his funeral be marked by "absolutely no religious rites of any kind." For his tombstone he asked for the words: "Here lies Arthur Clarke. He never grew up, but didn't stop growing."   Continued...

<p>Science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke gestures at his study in his home in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo in this January 1, 2002 file photo. REUTERS/Anuruddha Lokuhapuarachchi</p>