How to deal with a very long future in science fiction


Since it is so very difficult to predict even a few decades ahead, how can a writer predict million coming years? The obvious answer is that there is no need to try, where science is speculation, not a forecast. However, it has to be some resonance with what we think and do, so it is natural to sit far future problems, and to monitor how these problems have been managed.

distant future is actually easier to write about the near future, for all kinds of problems of consistency, and in a short time the questions that must be answered in one way or another, disappear no one stretching over millions of years. Still, the writer is obliged to come up with something big. He / she must decide what kind of fate lies in wait for us as a species.

HG Wells solution to social divisions of his day was rather exaggerated and developed in the departments species, the upper classes become weak and decadent, the lower classes evolved into wild beasts. Eight hundred thousand years is enough to bring this about, in his case. A few more million years, the sun itself cools, and the earth is dying.

Old Red dying sun ancient earth will be a familiar theme, as in Clifford Simak’s early 1930 story “The World of Red Sun ‘. At the other end of the tradition is incomparably vaster and more ambitious tetrology The Book of New Sun (1980-3) by Gene Wolfe. Here we see one important type of solution to the problem, “how can I show mankind so far ahead, when surely so much has changed and make us unrecognizable? ‘

solution Wolfe is, in part, by that time – – probably millions of years into the future – – we will be creating in the development of the planet, the most advanced technology is no longer available to the masses. The bike culture turns round and to some extent return to basics, to economically more primitive existence. Yet cultural changes accumulate, and layer upon layer of cultural themes have improved our experience. So the writer can ground his work in the familiar needs of everyday life, but with added features that make it much more than a rehash of what we do.

Lloyd Biggles in The Fury Out of Time shows not very pleasant distant future culture that humanity has evolved physiologically; for example, people no longer have the stomach, and be ready to eat processed food. The story manages awaken a sense of loneliness in today’s time-adventurer, transferred millions of years; but the reader also finds ‘grounded’ by the very familiar moral defects distant future people. Selfish, manipulative politicians are the same in all ages of the universe. No matter how much time has passed, not everything changes.

Arthur C Clarke has a different way to the conclusion that far in the future will not be totally unfamiliar. His point is that as technology advances, it becomes so efficient to be in a sense invisible, so that any new discoveries not obtrude not basic humanity, but on the contrary, to allow it to express themselves. Novella his The Road to the Sea , and much more ambitious and more-in-the-future novel The City and the Stars , symptoms of this idea. There is much wrong with the Rome Diaspar described in the novel, but it is preserved human remains relatively unchanged in the system of molecular memory bank. The wheel turns round, so far-future science meets our idea of ​​medieval magic

Science or magic -. Finally, what is the difference? We are still left with our basic desires, including the desire for freedom and community.


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