While I don't recall a Clarke's remark to the effect, the conclusion is unmistakable: this story as well as the novel "The Songs of Distant Earth" are essentially variants of Clarke's first published story - "Rescue Party".
All three share an identical doomsday scenario: the star shining on the home of an evolved life form explodes killing all life & planets. In Songs & Rescue Party, it is the Sun shining on earth that explodes; in this story, it is the sun shining on an alien world 3000 light years from earth that exploded 6000 years back.
Full text of this story is available online (link via BestScienceFictionStories), as also an MP3 version (link via SF Signal & Free SF Reader). I haven't seen either of these online version, but quick skimming of text version suggests it's the text I read.
Story summary (spoiler).
Humans have figured out a way of traveling really great distances - at least 3000 light years in less than a human life time. A survey ship comes upon this remnant of a star - a tiny version of its earlier self, surrounded by several concentric shells of dust that are still expanding & are what remains of its outer surface & planets after explosion.
But one outer planet about the distance of Pluto from our Sun survives - barely. Much of its outer ice covering is gone, but a rocky surface remains. That is where our surveyors land. And they find a vast building, & also some remnants of radio signals in rocks.
The building is a huge vault. Apparently, there were intelligent space travelers living on one of the inner worlds that no longer existed, but they had not yet mastered interstellar travel. They had taken extreme pains to stock the vault with the best of their culture & artifacts.
And they had taken a lot of pain in explaining this in a variety of ways to any intelligent aliens that might in future come upon what remained of their world. They did not want all signs of their existence wiped out. Now the humans are burdened & honored with paying homage to them & preserving their relics.
The story is told through a Jesuit priest on board the surveyor - in somewhat religious undertones.
Personally, I found both Songs & Rescue Party better stories. But this is not a bad story.
- "The Collected Stories of Arthur C Clarke"
- "More Than One Universe"
- David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer (Ed)'s "The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF".
- This story is unrelated to H G Wells' "The Star", which inspired Clarke's "The Hammer of God".
- "Improving the Neighborhood" is a much shorter variant of this - but earth dies here, & aliens mull over the kind of sentients we were.
- All stories with religion as a theme.
- Jeff Vehige discusses this story from a Christian religious perspective. I am not familiar with Christianity, & could neither relate to those nuances, nor considered them important. But others might care.
The Star, short story, review
Author: Arthur C Clarke
First published: 1955
Listed in Contento's Top Ten Most Reprinted Stories.