Sunday, 17 June 2012
The Further Future
The Time Machine by HG Wells (802,701 AD, then the Further Vision);
Midsummer Century by James Blish (about 23,000 years hence);
The Winter Of The World by Poul Anderson (at least 10,000 years hence).
Of particular interest to sf readers is whether there has been any space travel, either interplanetary or interstellar, in that time.
However, a Dirac message transmitted in Midsummer Century is received many millennia earlier in Blish's interstellar novel, The Quincunx Of Time, so we know that there has been space travel in that timeline.
What happened between the 1890's and 802,701? Did anyone (re-)invent Cavorite and leave Earth to contend with Selenites or Martians? Wells mostly wrote one-off works and did not connect them into a series.
Decades ago, the Lancaster sf bookseller, Peter Pinto, told me that he thought that The Winter Of The World was set in Anderson's Technic Civilization timeline. On reflection, he added that it might just be that Anderson had got into writing about futures in a particular way so that there seemed to be a connection. If this novel is set in the Technic timeline, then its events occur long after the Fall of the Terran Empire but while human beings who have never seen Earth are still spreading through the galaxy.
The Winter Of The World is so named because an Ice Age has destroyed our civilisation. Mankind, with new racial distinctions, has thrived in various societies, including an Empire, mines metal from the sites of the former technological civilisation and has just re-invented telegraph.
Since I am currently rereading the novel, I will look out for any clues as to which timeline it belongs in but do not really expect to find any - although apparently Sandra Miesel persuaded Anderson that Planet Of No Return could fit into the Psychotechnic future history so it is always possible to re-assess connections between works.