Friday, 8 April 2016


Attitudes and laws regarding homosexuality and smoking have reversed in my lifetime. What else can change? In the SFWA Bulletin, Fall 1979, John Varley suggested: to write futuristic sf, think of something that is now shocking, imagine that it has become commonplace, deduce its social implications and write from the viewpoint of characters living then, not from the perspective of a shocked time traveler arriving from our present.

I do not think that easy organ transplants would lead to an increase in capital punishment for minor offenses and the obsolescence of prisons as in Larry Niven's Known Space future history. Too many other social and moral factors would counteract this. In his Known Space/Man-Kzin Wars story, "Inconstant Star," Poul Anderson considers smoking. It no longer causes cancer or emphysema. However, puritanism is cyclical so the practice is again disapproved of on Earth whereas, on Wunderland, it has become a symbol from the occupation era because the kzinti disliked it and disallowed it in their presence. Meanwhile, Robert Saxtorph, from Earth but immune to puritanism, has become famous and therefore so has his pipe. These are plausible background details in a future history series.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I express partial disagreement with your comment about homosexuality. While many upper crust left wing "liberals" might now say homosexuality is neither wrong or unnatural, that only applies to them. Many, many ordinary people still regard that sad and self destructive sexual inversion as distasteful and plainly wrong. Nor do I think that such "elite" approval of homosexuality will necessarily be permanent.

I infer the Kzinti disliked tobacco smoking because their sense of smell is far stronger than what humans have. We see the Ardazirho in Anderson's WE CLAIM THESE STARS regarding smoking as repellent due to their far keener sense of smell.

And I have noticed thru the works of Poul Anderson how various characters like pipe smoking! I remember seeing a book jacket photograph of Anderson holding a pipe.