Monday, 7 March 2016

The Future Through The Past

By reading science fiction, we learn how the future was viewed in the past:

a character in Robert Heinlein's Future History has a mobile phone but also shares the Solar System with Martians, Venerians, Callistans etc;

Dan Dare's timeline had a world government and an Interplanetary Space Fleet but neither Sterling decimalization nor inflation;

characters in Poul Anderson's The Star Fox/Fire Time diptych use "infotrieves" to access what we would call the internet but also travel in the ubiquitous "aircars" of much futuristic sf;

characters in Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium future history have multipurpose pocket computers but write on them with styluses.

Thus, sf, coming from our past, moves forwards but also sideways in time.

(In 1956, while the overweight spaceman, Nicholas van Rijn, was being introduced in Poul Anderson's "Margin of Profit," I was being introduced to sf by Dan Dare, which featured the overweight spaceman, Digby. Heinlein, Anderson and Pournelle are, of course, three successive American future historians.)

1 comment:

  1. Kaor, Paul!

    Anderson's Technic History lacks one bit of technology which continues to somewhat jar me when I remember it: no cellphones or ipads! I first clearly came across that idea from reading Niven/Pournelle's THE MOTE IN GOD'S EYE in 1975, from the pocket computers carried by the characters. I'm rather sorry Poul Anderson didn't try to work in pocket computers/cell phones into his later Technic stories, beginning with A KNIGHT OF GHOSTS AND SHADOWS.

    And air cars remains one bit of futuristic technology I covet! (Smiles)

    But I think Poul Anderson was one of the earliest SF authors to use the concept of cloning in his works. ENSIGN FLANDRY mentions how a body's DNA/genetic pattern was used for "regrowing" lost limbs and organs (altho the word "cloning" was not used in that book). I have read about actual research in which cells taken from one organ were cloned to form additional cells of that same organ. A hundred years from now cloning of the kind mentioned in ENSIGN FLANDRY might be practical.

    Sean

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