Monday, 11 July 2016

The Future

Pre-industrial prophets lacked a modern understanding of technological and consequent sociological changes. King Arthur would return but to an unchanged social context. He would be a king, not a president or some other kind of ruler. The future Buddha's career would exactly reproduce the events in the life of the historical Buddha.

Writing in the pivotal twentieth century, Poul Anderson was able to look not only back to Thor as a popular god but also forward to the same god as a remembered and valued myth. Anderson's Christian character Axor is able not only to preach that God was incarnated on Earth but also to seek evidence for a divine incarnation elsewhere in an inhabited universe that would have been inconceivable to the earliest Christians.

Poul Anderson wrote both fantasy and science fiction set in the past and also futuristic sf. However, fantasy does not translate so well into the future. What would an alternative history where magic still works and gods are still active in the thirtieth century look like?

6 comments:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I'm not sure I understand your first paragraph, it seems unclear. Don't you mean "King Arthur COULD return but to a CHANGED social context"?

I agree with your second paragraph: interplanetary and interstellar space travel was inconceivable to first century AD Christians. Because the advances in astronomical knowledge and technology had not yet occurred to even make them speculative possibilities.

Harry Turtledove wrote a novel called THE TOXIC SPELL DUMP which touches on some of what you said in the third paragraph. Albeit, it's not set in the thirtieth century AD.

Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Sean,
I meant that it was prophesied/expected/imagined that Arthur WOULD return but to a social context that would have remained UNCHANGED since his day: there would still be kingdoms without parliaments, unchanged technology, none of the social changes/advances/progress etc that we now take for granted.
Paul.

ndrosen said...

Kaor,Paul!

Adzel is a Buddhist; are you referring to Father Axor in THE GAME OF EMPIRE?

Best Regards,
Nicholas D. Rosen

Paul Shackley said...

Nicholas,
I am. I will correct the post. Thanks.
Paul.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Nicholas!

Dang! Why didn't ** I ** see that, the confusion of AXOR with ADZEL? I feel so chagrined! (Smiles)

Sean

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Now I understand better what you meant. And it's no surprise the embryonic kingdoms of early post Roman Europe did not have parliaments. The Estates, Cortes, parliaments we see later, say, from about 1100 onwards, needed centuries to take form. And, if my recollection is right, the thirteenth century saw many rapid technological advances, both locally invented and adapted from outside.

Sean