Saturday, 23 August 2014
The Future Is In The Present
In the earliest science fiction, the action always started here and now even if it then moved into the future or to another planet. HG Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come is a history of the future dreamed by an outer narrator. At the end of the book, that narrator points out to his correspondent that, if this is a true history, then one of its main protagonists is a young man now. A future leader of humanity of whom we have just read is starting his career while we are reading about him.
Thus, Wells makes an important point: the future is close; it starts tomorrow; its movers and shakers are alive now. Greg Bear makes the same point. Some of his characters visit a future library which discloses that there will be a major political movement called Naderism. One of them comments, "'I'm wondering...who's going to tell Ralph...'" (p. 143)