Sunday, 13 March 2016

Tomorrow Is Yesterday

Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History begins in the aftermath of that historical turning point, World War III. This war is not in our history - yet - but is certainly in our minds, in the collective imagination and in many works of fiction. However, it did not happen in our 1958. With the mere passage of time, the earliest installments of a future history series cease to be a possible future and become instead an alternative past. Future history becomes alternative history - unless the author takes the precaution of beginning his narrative much further in the future, as Anderson did with his second such series, the History of Technic Civilization.

If there is a hereafter and if people in that hereafter can meet those who die after them, then they will eventually hear what will sound like the plot of a fantastic future history novel. Larry Niven's and Jerry Pournelle's character, Allen Carpenter, is told that:

during the Cold War, the US supported Muslim insurgents against the USSR;
the US gave the insurgents weapons and money;
the insurgents built organizations;
the US invaded Iraq;
the USSR collapsed;
the Cold War ended;
Muslim terrorists hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon;
there were more wars...

We do not know what will happen in our future but we do know that, whatever it is, it will be at least as fantastic as that.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    The first item in your list is the ancient principle that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend (or at least temporary ally)."

    One wonders what might have happened if the USSR had not let irritation with the incompetence of the puppet regime it had installed in Afghanistan to openly invade that country. Would the USSR, not weakened and drained by the failed effort to conquer Afghanistan, NOT have collapsed in 1989-1991? Or at least had survived longer?


    1. Sean,
      I think that it was on the way to bankruptcy and collapse, whatever happened.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      I agree! But the Soviet collapse might have been postponed a decade or so absent the Afghan war. The consequences of that possible delay are unknown to us.