Saturday, 14 December 2013
(ii) A space traveler visits an older Earth-like planet.
(iii) A space traveler returns to the far future Earth.
In each of these similar scenarios, a modern or near future viewpoint character can witness the long time decline or devolution of human, or humanoid, beings. In the previous post, I compared Poul Anderson's "The High Ones" (scenario (ii)) with HG Wells' The Time Machine (scenario (i)). "The High Ones" turns out to have been an ironic title.
Anderson's "The Horn of Time the Hunter" (original title, "Homo Aquaticus"), which I am about to reread, is a variation on scenario (iii). Space travelers to the galactic core, returning to Earth in the far future, stop at a humanly colonized planet where human beings have become aquatic and lost their humanity.
Anderson has merpeople in his fantasies. There is, or was, an "aquatic ape" theory according to which early human beings lost their body hair by standing up to their necks in the sea for long periods to evade predators. Imagine if some of them had swum out further, becoming human equivalents of dolphins or even developing gills, real merpeople but sf, not fantasy.