This blog has a fairly international readership. If Google Analytics are anything to go by, nearly half of you come from outside the US, and about a quarter from outside the Anglosphere. This probably has much more to do with the virtues of the Internet than any virtue of mine.
Space itself has been an international environment, so far. Which probably has much more to do with its perceived lack of immediate economic or power-political value than with anyone's virtue. Like Antarctica it is interesting enough to establish a presence there, but not enough for the major powers to go to the mat over it.
A frequent topic on this blog has been the colonization of space - how likely it is (or isn't), and under what circumstances it might happen. I am not the only one raising the question. Charlie Stross has brought it up a couple of times, at least.
As he notes, and this is pretty much a no-brainer, the 'Murrican SF conception of the space future is highly colonization-centric. It is firmly and understandably rooted in the experience of the New World (by those populations for whom it was new), and especially the Wild West. Thus Bat Durston and Firefly.
My excessively vague impression is that, elsewhere, the conceptions of the space futures are quite different. The contrast that is most striking in my mind is between Heinlein's rip-roarin' interplanetary future and Clarke's crumpets-and-tea version. (For both writers I am thinking mainly of their earlier work. Later Heinlein annoyed me; later Clarke merely bored me.)
Of the two, Clarke's future now strikes me as far closer to a plausible midfuture than Heinlein's. For one thing - but a very important thing - his Solar System was essentially the one we actually live in, with only one habitable planet, Earth.
Heinlein's Solar System - with its habitable Venus and near-habitable Mars, not to mention native civilizations on both worlds - was wonderful but baroque, largely outdated even by the 1950s. In a lot of ways classic Heinlein reads like steampunk disguised as rocketpunk.
2001: A Space Odyssey is, no surprise, firmly in the Clarkean universe, and resembles the real world space program on 1960s steroids. There is a Moon base, or more than one (the Russians presumably have their own), and commercial space travel, but no hint of incipient Heinleinian colonization.
Having said this much, I have no real sense of how non-US perceptions of a space future have developed over the years, or how much part permanent colonization has played in these images. So I want to toss this out to non-US readers in particular: Does the whole space colonization debate even seem salient, or just a parochial 'Murrican concern?
What is the human engagement with space all about, anyway? And while we are at it, what is the relationship between actual space travel and space as a setting for fiction, Romance or otherwise?
The image, from APOD, seems like one that Clarke would particularly have appreciated: a Perseid meteor entering Earth's atmosphere, as seen from above.