Our guide is gone. Sir Arthur C. Clarke passed away today. After Gary's departure, this is pretty much the other pillar of my childhood. I've blogged before about Sir Arthur's tremendous impact on me and the way I view the world. and I don't know if I can expand on what I said there: Reading Arthur C. Clarke taught me two of the most important skills I ever acquired, and made me believe that one day we'd see the surface of Titan ourselves. And what do you know.
We've seen the surface of Titan (and even heard the sound of its winds); we communicate around the world with extra-terrestrial relays; we've discovered ways to talk to dolphins and our virtual realities get better every day.
But our Childhood hasn't yet Ended. We are still human beings, bound to our sun and its solar system. I just recently suggested that Childhood's End offers the only compelling future for humanity I've ever read. I don't mean that we're likely to encounter creatures like the Overlords, but that the transformation that book describes is at least metaphorically inevitable.
It was interesting reading Charles Stross' fantastic Accelerando and seeing that vision updated with modern views on technology and social organization. It wasn't quite as compelling as CE, but it's the closest I've seen anyone come.
Blasters and warp drives and space marines are all very well and good, but one of the reasons I read almost no sci-fi is because I grew up reading Sir Arthur's rigorous, deeply imaginative visions of our future. Next to his towering intellect, the rest of the field crawls on all fours.
We are infinitely reduced by this loss. And now we have to imagine our future all by ourselves.