In the Science Fiction writing world, there are three writers who wrote books that almost transcended everything. Frank Herbert with his ecological themes, Isaac Asimov with his Generational Government and population themes and last but definitely not least, Arthur C. Clarke with his Scientific themes. Herbert died in 1986, Asimov in April 1996.
Everyone always thought of Clarke as the best of the three because of his scientific knowledge which seemed to go into his stories in a manner which could be easily implemented and believed. But whether you think any one of the three were the best, all of them are now gone and the world is a lessor place because of it.
For this writer and reader, these three writers were a main stay of my library with first editions of each in it. Of course, having read many books outside the main stream by these authors, I can tell you without hesitation that not everything they wrote was great. But the overall package was far greater than the average writer could ever hope to achieve. With careers spanning more then 50 years each, Herbert, Asimov, and Clarke had a style which is lost on today's writers.
In the stories written by the big three, you could always count on the fact that the stories they had written would paint not only a unique world or universe, but also that their characters would be rich, deep and well rounded. No shallow characters for these writers.
And now here we are 22 years after Herbert died and now all three are gone. Lost are the new stories that they would have written. And at 90 years old, Clarke was the longest lived of the three. But you can say that he gave us all of those years in 2001, 2010, 2061, and finally 3001.
For the science fiction world, I guess the challenge now will be to find the next big three that will affect the next generation of readers.