Wednesday, 29 March 2017

About Everything

Is science fiction about the future? No. It is about everything. In Poul Anderson's science fiction, it matters:

what happened at the Battle of Ticinus in the Second Punic War;
what would have happened if Cyrus the Great had been killed in infancy;
which Pope was born when during the European Middle Ages;
how the myth of Atlantis originated;
why past civilizations declined - because similar factors might influence future civilizations;
how life evolved - because this is relevant to how it might evolve elsewhere;
how the universe originated.

These are just seven of many possible examples.

In SM Stirling's science fiction, we need to know the names and dates of twentieth century British monarchs because Stirling creates, among several alternative timelines, two that diverge in 1878 and 1998, respectively. It matters what the world was like in 1250 BC if only because Stirling's time travelers will soon change that world out of all recognition.

Thus, knowledge of the past affects time travel fiction, alternative history fiction and futuristic science fiction.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree! Poul Anderson wrote about almost everything or anything you can think of.

And it did matter which pope was born or not born. That was an important poin in THE SHIELD OF TIME, in "Amazement Of The World." One timeline, the desired one, had Gregory IX being born, while another had him not being born. Gregory IX was important because of his unyielding defiance of the Emperor Frederick II. The struggle between the two was important for preventing the Church from being dominated by the state. The other timeline had the weak Celestine IV as pope during most of the years our Gregory IX reigned. Celestine was unable to stop Frederick II--leading to the state dominating the Church.