Wednesday, 27 July 2016
Our Present Is Someone Else's Future
"'So many books? You cannot be a cleric.'
"Why, I doubt if I have a hundred..."
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 704.
SM Stirling has a Tartessian visiting the temporally displaced Nantucket:
"'A name for every street, and a number on every house,' he muttered to himself.
"Oh, he could see how useful that would be, but it was a bit daunting."
-SM Stirling, Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998), p. 193.
In both cases, we get an intelligent man's perception of his future. I have quoted only one example from each work.
does not like to see a clock dividing his life up into seconds;
needs two days of close questioning before he understands that it is useful to have a mathematical symbol for nothing;
does not understand why there should be separate indoor latrines for men and women;
immediately sees the usefulness of placing a fire in a tiny alcove in the wall with a brick tunnel directing the smoke up out of the room;
knows that, to avoid killing trouble over women, it is necessary to understand not only the laws but also the ways that those are changed by unspoken taboos.
Pretty smart stuff.