British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.
The Somerset-born author came to fame in 1968 when short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.
Sir Arthur’s vision of future space travel and computing captured the popular imagination.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse paid tribute, hailing the writer as a “great visionary”.
An aide said Clarke died at 0130 local time in what had been his homeland since 1956 after a cardio-respiratory attack.
“Sir Arthur has left written instructions that his funeral be strictly secular,” his secretary, Nalaka Gunawardene, was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
“Absolutely no religious rites of any kind, relating to any religious faith, should be associated with my funeral,” she added.
A farmer’s son, Sir Arthur was educated at Huish’s Grammar School in Taunton before joining the civil service.
During World War II, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, where he worked in the then highly-secretive development of radar, and foresaw the concept of communication satellites.
Sir Arthur’s vivid and detailed descriptions of space shuttles, super-computers and rapid communications systems were enjoyed by millions of readers around the world.
In the 1940s, he maintained man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea dismissed at the time.
He was the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books, and his writings are credited by many observers with giving science fiction a human and practical face. He collaborated on the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick.
British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore had known Sir Arthur since they met as teenagers at the British Interplanetary Society.
Sir Patrick paid tribute to his friend, remembering him as “a very sincere person” with “a strong sense of humour”.
Tributes have also come from George Whitesides, the executive director of the National Space Society, with which Sir Arthur served on the board of governors, and fellow science fiction writer Terry Pratchett.
In 1956, after a failed marriage, Sir Arthur moved to Sri Lanka – then called Ceylon where he lived with a business partner and his family, and pursued his interest in scuba-diving.
His status as the grand old man of science fiction was threatened in 1998 by allegations of child abuse.
He strenuously denied them and was later cleared by an investigation, but the claims caused the confirmation of a knighthood to be delayed.
Since 1995, the author had been largely confined to a wheelchair by post-polio syndrome.