Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Future

A lot of sf is set in the future, including Poul Anderson's future histories. However, such works are not really about the future because they are set in their characters' present. Also, as Brian Aldiss wrote in his Introduction to James Blish's The Quincunx Of Time:

"One of the many original features of this novel is that it does actually concern the future. Most science fiction, if it is not fantasy, is about some extension of the present which only by agreement do we call the future. It catches our attention because we see in it a mirror of the present day."
-Brian Aldiss, PEEP: An Introduction to The Quincunx of Time IN James Blish, The Quincunx Of Time (New York, 1983), pp. 6-10 AT p. 7.

Quincunx concerns the future not or not only because its characters live in our future but because they receive messages from many very different periods of their future. I have just watched an episode of Smallville in which an old blind woman called Cassandra sees other characters' futures. A Kryptonian will outlive all his human friends. Cassandra herself dies when she sees Lex Luthor's future which seems to be all about death.

Poul Anderson's The Corridors Of Time and There Will Be Time are about the future because, in each of them, a time traveler from the twentieth century sees the future of humanity. Returning to Anderson's main future history, Nicholas van Rijn finds the answer to the question: how can herbivores become hunters? On Dathyna, the sunlight causes plants to form high-energy compounds supporting more active and intelligent animals and some fruit juices make meat nourishing for vegetarians through enzyme action.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Even tho Brian Aldiss was cautious enough to use the word "most," I am not sure I agree with him. MY view is that GOOD science fiction can be about the future, or at least futuristic. I'll first say that that any human society carries over to its future much that was once formerly "present time." Secondly, a story set in the future which has space travel, extra-planetary or even-Solar colonization, contact with non human rational beings, etc., would be in our future. Because we still lack most of those things!