Saturday, 14 January 2017

Alternative Parallel Futures

Future histories grow from the past and from the periods in which they are written and parallel each other so that they resemble alternative corridors or floors in a vast, multi-dimensional edifice. Interstellar travel is highlighted in American future histories where it is the ultimate symbol of freedom. It should be valued for its symbolic significance even if not as a practical proposition. There is no guarantee of freedom in an interstellar vessel as Robert Heinlein showed in his Future History. Brian Aldiss developed this theme further in Non-Stop.

A character in Poul Anderson's Tales Of The Flying Mountains (New York, 1984) fears:

"'The voyage is the ship's entire raison d'etre. Let the ideal be lost, and the future will be one of utter isolation, stagnation, retrogression, probably eventual extinction.'" (p. 14)

Amspaugh fears that children raised without direction or meaning will become ignoramuses, spiritual starvelings, True Believers or potential revolutionaries. Revolution will be unnecessary if the ship is from the outset a community with common interests.


  1. Paul:
    "Revolution will be unnecessary if the ship is from the outset a community with common interests."
    Only if the descendants of the original crew/passengers RETAIN common interests. Revolution becomes necessary, for instance, if someone manages to connive his/her way into power and then refuses to give it up in accordance with legitimate process.

    1. Kaor, Paul and DAVID!

      Paul, but I do hope that a FTL drive will someday be practical. While SF writers, such as PA and Heinlein, have speculated about reaching the stars by STL means, FTL would be better!

      David, now you are touching on an idea I've raised in another blog piece, my belief that political/social strife will be a possibility in any human community, such as a generation star ship. And we have to expect socio/political changes in such a community, both good and bad.