Friday, 8 May 2015

Unpacking A Future

Any sf story set at a future date implies a fictitious history linking the reader's present to that future. Poul Anderson unpacks such a future in Starfarers. On p. 172, we reach Chapter 21, a revised version of "Ghetto," originally the opening episode of the very short Kith History.

The Kith series could have been indefinitely extended with innumerable installments featuring different crews and colonies. Instead, "Kith," so short that it had to share a volume with the Maurai History, was collected as just two stories set in different periods, thus barely qualifying as a "future history."

A third story was added later. Two of the three are incorporated as chapters of Starfarers. The newer material, set before, during and after the Kith period, presents a substantial Stapledonian scenario with eventual cosmic consequences of consciousness and technology. Starfarers is a one volume future history like the same author's Tales Of The Flying Mountains and Genesis.

Wells wrote one future history. Stapledon wrote one future history and one cosmic history. Anderson wrote several single works or series that count as future histories and also several, like Tau Zero, that are cosmic in scope.

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