Thursday, January 19, 2006

Alternate Histories and Projected Futures





Both Arthur C. Clarke's (ACC) and Philip K. Dick's (PKD) projected futures were stunningly accurate at times, but a great deal more of their futures came to pass without any relevance to their fiction. Here is an alternate history and projected future compiled from both of their creative musings.


I'm fascinated by futures that never were. Not even 80s cyberpunk, prescient in so many crucial regards, is exempt from the onrush of events that become our history. In the foreword to the 20th anniversary edition of "Neuromancer," William Gibson apologizes for not foreseeing the ubiquity of cell-phones; in his novel, characters rely on the very pay-phones stores are presently removing from their premises because of their virtual obsolescence.

I'm beginning work on a novel that attempts to envision the next 100 years or so of human history (soon after, alien contact occurs, so all sagely bets are off). My pre-ET future history feels right, but then again Isaac Asimov's robot stories must have seemed at least somewhat inevitable when he wrote them.


6 comments:

W.M. Bear said...

Or think of 2001: A Space Odyssey. We have neither an Orbiter Hilton, a moon base, the capability for a manned flight to Jupiter, nor intelligent computers. We do have videophones (sort of).

razorsmile said...

What every scifi writer since ... everyone period has missed is this:

The most consistently improved technology in the human ambit is communications.

Humanity tends towards a hivemind.

Danieru said...

"The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind." - Mary Shelley

Perfectzen said...

Hmm interesting... i say whatever future you choose will be valid as long as it's justifiable. Of course things will need to be taken into consideration, the development of info/bio/nano tech for example but where it goes from there depends on a couple of brave 'what ifs?' like -what if the U.S got the bomb (as they did) - or what if the Chinese dumped all intellectual property secrets out onto the web, thereby levelling the playing field (as they did in N.Stephenson's Snow Crash/Diamond age? or the more proximate, what if someone tried something silly in Iran? know what i mean... - Since history's not only shaped by human psychology but also by momentous events at the furthest reaches of human calculation, future gazing could possibly be considered as being a process of educated guesswork, speculative creativity then speculative guesswork. We're savvy enough these days to know we won't Get the future but hopefully what we do get will always seem plausible as long as it's the result of solid yet elegant extrapolation.

Hope that helps, good luck with your what ifs...

wow it's been a long night...

Perfectzen said...

Oh yeah.. n what razorsmile said.. however, although there's still quite a way to go in terms of what remains to be... done... is there a lot left to envision? what is there beyond distance and depth?
Beyond instantaneous, distance irrelevant communications? i suppose there's telepathy, but by the time you add them together further options don't present themselves as quickly - of course there's also capacity
to consider, from both the transmission and reception angles, in (x) years time it'll be interesting to see what'll happen when entire encyclopaedias can be transmitted at the speed of a short mp3 but it'll be ever more so interesting if and when we
ever arrive at that other point where we can accept, retain, recall and use such information as quickly as we receive it.

Oh boy... i can see dawn approaching.. i don't know if i'm awake or asleep...

(certificate of veracity: this is not a work of art)

(though it probably should be:) lader...

Unknown said...

seems like its been ages since I've visited here