All my life, on a clear night, I look up. The vast, hypnotising beauty of eternity surrounds us; unmediated, glorious, silent. A tilt of my head pinions me helplessly on the spear of my curiosity, my meaning. I want to explore.
But where to go? If I look up, and then somehow leap into the sky (the thing I wish for whenever I find myself looking up), where to go?
I never have any objectives, no mission structure, no achievements to aim for, just a desire to wander, to see. Perhaps I never thought it through.
But while Star Wars, and Star Trek with its five year mission to just ‘go and see what’s out there’, were very much about adventure, the defining images of space from my childhood were the evocative vistas from the Space 1999 credits and my dad’s volumes of great sci-fi artwork, with Tim White and Chris Foss’s work standing out.
Then I heard about No Man’s Sky, learned that my former colleague Sean Murray and his team at Hello Games also had those same influences, loved those same paintings and distilled it all into this supersaturated, evocative and impossibly vast solitude.
I wander, I trigger broadcasts to faraway stars, I harvest what I need. My boots click on the minimalist glass flooring of vast, almost empty space stations. But while there are others, travellers in their own solitude, everywhere there are ghosts: reaching out and screaming from monoliths, oftentimes judging me or teaching me of once vast enmities between the races I encounter, the corpses (dead gift horses) I find in crashed ships, and the Atlas, both a thread of meaning and an act of faith.
It is strange that I find myself latching onto this brazen narrative, for I am sated only with climbing the next hill for a vista, almost somnambulant with the breeze, the exploration and the soundtrack, a time without hours. Peace. I am interested to learn about this higher form of consciousness that promises a point to it all, a pattern, a god in the machine. At the back of my mind this is somebody’s universe, somebody’s purpose after all, it has creators, they work in Guildford.
Yet these gods are themselves worshippers. No Man’s Sky is a cathedral built in honour of our universe, while also revering the heart, the whole point, of exploration – the challenge of completing one’s self.