Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Gods And The Future


Themes of this blog include:

future histories;
Poul Anderson's treatments of such themes;
comparisons of Anderson's with others' treatments.

In classical Greece:

"The gods represented a quintessence of human emotions and abilities."
-Fred Hoyle, October The First Is Too Late (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1974), Chapter 12, p. 127.

Thus, to sacrifice yourself to Dionysus and to act wildly and spontaneously are much the same thing.

Hoyle's narrator and his friend are shown a silent film summarizing six thousand years of history at an average rate of a century for every four minutes:

Africa and Asia become affluent;
a homogeneous civilization spreads quickly over the Earth;
cities spread and join;
they cover a quarter of the Terrestrial surface;
all other animal species become extinct;
people live in standardized small dwellings;
technology advances at the expense of freedom;
there is anger in the ant heap;
no one travels except on official business;
food, amusement and work are provided locally;
work is undemanding;
food is factory-produced and of poor quality;
the apparently homogeneous civilization splits in two;
there are bombs, rockets and fire;
movement, transport, food distribution and social organization cease;
a few small population centres survive;
centres expand;
technology improves;
a new language is spoken;
many books and other relics are recovered;
centres overlap and argue;
there is a war followed by global coherence;
life degenerates as before;
there is a second catastrophe and a second reconstruction;
each such cycle occupies just under a thousand years;
at last, after a catastrophe, just two centres survive;
they grow to a modest size, then stop for nearly a thousand years;
after so many catastrophes, the population is less heterogeneous;
people are restrained and reasonable, having learnt from the past;
there is friendly rivalry between the two centres;
both groups grow;
for a long time, they control the growth;
suddenly, it becomes uncontrolled;
rivalry becomes hostility;
in the next re-expansion, there are three groups;
when they reach a million each, they negotiate, merge and occupy a small area;
over a thousand years, there is little change;
they believe that they have reached genuine stability.

A more extreme version of Anderson's rise and fall of civilizations.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

If this was what Hoyle thought, then I have to disagree. I find his scenario too simplistic and un-nuanced. Human history has never been so rigidly "symmetrical."