Monday, 29 July 2013

Flight To Forever II

Poul Anderson's "Flight to Forever" (IN Anderson, Alight In The Void, New York, 1993, pp. 161-240), published in 1950, begins and ends in 1973 although its hero, Saunders, time travels around the cosmic cycle between the beginning and end of the story. Twenty two lines of text separate:

"The universe was dead!" (p. 235)

from:

"The universe was re-forming." (p. 236)

Between cosmic death and re-formation, Saunders eats a sandwich.

At his first stop, in 2073, he reflects that "...the gerontology of 1973 made it entirely possible..." that "...he was still alive today..." (p. 166). So his 1973 was more advanced than ours.

"Flight to Forever" would make an excellent film. Imagine this dialogue on a sound track:

"CREATURE FROM OUT OF TIME, LEAVE THIS PLACE AT ONCE OR THE FORCES WE USE WILL DESTROY YOU!
"Can you help me?...Can you send me back through time?
"MAN, THERE IS NO WAY TO TRAVEL FAR BACKWARD IN TIME, IT IS INHERENTLY IMPOSSIBLE. YOU MUST GO ON TO THE VERY END OF THE UNIVERSE, AND BEYOND THE END, BECAUSE THAT WAY LIES -
"He screamed...
"GO ON, MAN, GO ON!..." (p. 232)

And before that, these visuals: a "city" of titanic and changing structures, throbbing and pulsing forces, flashing and roaring energies, wavering and blurring light, hissing and stinging air...

Some of the phenomena that Saunders encounters are familiar adventure fiction material rather than serious futurological speculation. In 50,000 AD:

snow and ice caused by war, not by geology;
a massive, half-ruined stone fortress with one banner still flying;
a young long-haired man in helmet and kilt with a four-armed alien companion

- like a good Doctor Who episode, it would make excellent cinema.

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