British science-fiction guru Arthur C. Clarke was joined yesterday by Tom Hanks and other real and screen astronauts to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke joined an audio-visual 'cybercast' from his home in Colombo, although his link to Hank's panel and studio audience in California was not as advanced as the film's Hal-9000 computer. 'I didn't manage to follow the whole of the discussion,' he apologised on more than one occasion as his modem connection failed. Clarke took e-mailed questions from his Web audience throughout the world on science fiction, the film's legacy and space exploration. But there were no questions on allegations made in a British newspaper of paedophilia with Sri Lankan boys, which he has dismissed. Hanks, who portrayed an American astronaut in the box-office hit Apollo 13 and is an avowed space nut, described watching 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time as a 12-year-old. 'The first time I saw the film it was the first time I had an idea of the cinema as art,' Hanks said. 'It was like seeing Picasso's Guernica for the first time,' he said of director Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel. The studio panel, including 2001 actors Kier Dullea and Gary Lockwood and real-life Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, praised the film not as science fiction but as 'reality that hasn't happened yet'. Clarke told the anecdote of being stopped at a Hawaii airport by a Customs officer who said: 'I won't let you in until you explain the film's ending.'