Sunday, 23 April 2017
liquid water, heat sources and organic matter and therefore possibly also life in the outer Solar System;
dark matter holding the galaxy together;
dark energy accelerating cosmic expansion;
possibly 95% of the universe composed of dark matter and dark energy;
what does the universe look like to beings who perceive that 95% and not the 5% visible to us?
Must an sf writer change his fictional premises every couple of decades? JRR Tolkien devoted his entire creative life to a single fictional history but was able to do this because his series was a prehistoric fantasy, not futuristic sf. By contrast, Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History and Genesis could not be more dissimilar. Anderson became dissatisfied with his first future history because:
"That clutter of props and backdrops came nowhere near hinting at the variety, strangeness, and sheer wonder of the real universe..." (SFWA Bulletin, Fall 1979, p. 8)
I have reread that series recently and thought that it was a substantial future history but there is no way that Anderson's entire output could have been limited to that single fictional timeline. Probably some of his successors now describe interstellar explorers' encounters with dark matter and dark energy but I have not kept up with more recent sf.