Monday, 5 June 2017

Looking Back

Fictional narratives set in the future sometimes assume a further future looking back at the period of the fictional narrative. Poul Anderson's future history series, the History of Technic Civilization, refers to various historical works. These include The Earth Book Of Stormgate which is compiled shortly after the Terran War on Avalon described in The People Of The Wind. Thus, the Earth Book is old news by the time of Dominic Flandry. However, much later than Flandry's period, a Galactic Archaeological Society looks back at the Terran Empire, even describing it as "the First Empire." Since that "First Empire" waged war on Avalon, then, two centuries later according to Sandra Miesel's Chronology, was defended by Flandry, the Galactic Archaeological Society clearly exists at a much later date.

SM Stirling's The Scourge Of God is set in Change Years 23-24 but quotes a song that is attributed to a figure in the 1st century CY. This attribution thus implies a later perspective although we are not told anything about that later period.

James Blish's The Quincunx Of Time reverses this familiar historical process because its protagonists in our future receive messages from various periods of their future. HG Wells' The Time Machine can have no later perspective because the Time Traveller witnesses the end of life on Earth.

It is always illuminating to compare Anderson, Stirling, Blish and Wells.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Your mentioning of James Blish reminded me of Anderson's GENESIS and "Requiem For A Universe." In both works see persons or beings from the remote future communicating with or sending a message to their distant forebears.


    1. Sean,
      Does this happen in GENESIS?

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      Oh no! I made a horrid blooper! I meant STARFARERS, not GENESIS! My Andersonian street credibility is shattered! (Smiles)