Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!


New Premium Module: Tyrants of the Moonsea! Read More
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

Into the future!

CoutelierCoutelier Member Posts: 1,250
edited November 2013 in Off-Topic
This is a question I guess for any actual historians or sociologists out there. It came up when I was go through all my tumblr stuff and fascinated me.

It's about science fiction. Would there be any equivalent of sci-fi in FR, for example. But in particular, stories set in the future. Other than prophecies, are they a recent phenomenon that only started happening in the last couple hundred years? And if so, why didn't they happen before? Have cultures always had a pessimistic view of the future, like the greeks saw man's history as being one of decline, and in the middle ages was everyone just sitting around waiting for the world to end? Is it just because technology has been advancing at a faster pace than ever before and people have been able to witness huge changes taking place in their own lifetime?

Post edited by Coutelier on


  • bman86bman86 Member Posts: 115
    edited November 2013
    The problem with pre-modern history is that the bulk of the population were illiterate. Not only were they illiterate, but their formal education was either non existent or distributed through religious institutions (aka vested interests, not objective). Their life was hard, short and at best dependent on subsistence farming. This is in addition to populations that were a fraction of current levels. It was only when education became more widespread, when ideas were more readily shared, and when our understanding of the world grew (science), were we then able to begin to imagine a future far different to the present. I think the renaissance (late middle ages) was when people began to imagine a future in which man could perform seemingly supernatural feats using science and technology. Even we are limited, that is, even with all our understanding and current technology we cannot realistically imagine a world beyond technological singularity.

    That's my opinion anyway

    Post edited by bman86 on
  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
    @Coutelier Speculative fiction about the future wasn't always grim. And it has existed since at least the Norse myths (Ragnarok happens, the Gods die, and humans go forward without them is the upshot of it all). As for the rest, there are speculative fiction works about the future existing from about the 1300s, but the term "Science Fiction" wasn't coined until the 1950's. In the late 19th and early 20th century, they were called "Science Romances", at least in Britain, since many of the stories were the "Man explains to his fianceé how far they have come since the benighted past" type stories (yes, just writing that description made me gag a little).

    As I recall from the course I took in college on Science Fiction (yes, my community college ROCKED), there was a story called "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" in the 10th Century and a guy named ibn Al-Nafiss (?) who wrote a book in the 13th century. Voltaire and Kepler also wrote speculative fiction. MicroMegas being the Voltaire book and Somnium being the Kepler book. They are considered science fantasy, though, and not really science fiction- Although some peg "Somnium" as Science Fiction since it involves a journey to the moon and the motion of the earth as seen from the moon is described.

    "The Blazing World" by Margaret Cavendish and "Nicolai Klimii's Underground Travels" (a translated title, can't remember the original) are two other forerunners of modern Sci-Fi. More people agree that Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and "The Last Man" are the first REAL (for whatever values of 'real' you accept) first Science Fiction stories. Then there was Edgar Allen Poe's Hans Pfaal story where the titular character takes a flight to the moon, and from there on, Jules Verne dominated the Sci-Fi scene.

  • LadyRhianLadyRhian Member Posts: 14,694
    Actually, I should say, Many Gods die in Ragnarok. Some do survive, and Hodur and Baldur rise out of Hel's Kingdom to live again, and humanity is revived from two survivors.

  • enneractenneract Member Posts: 187
    edited November 2013
    The key shift in perspective brought to us by the Enlightenment is the idea that the trajectory of humanity was upward, not downward. It is more or less human nature to see the current (or next) generation as a shadow of the previous. It takes the application of the art of rationality to make the paradigm shift needed in order to conceive of science, much less of science fiction.

    The difference between Sci-Fi and simple speculative fiction is that in Sci-Fi, Man himself is the instrument and instigator of his future, not merely a participant or minion. It took a God or other mythological supernatural power in order to arrange for the brighter future in pre-enlightenment speculative fiction, while in Sci-Fi, Man makes himself greater than he is (Also, note 'greater', not necessarily 'better' or 'happier').

    There have been a handful of instances in the more distant past of individuals who were able to overcome this handicap of perspective, but they were definitely outliers.

  • CoutelierCoutelier Member Posts: 1,250
    Some very insightful responses I think. And I hadn't heard of some of those stories, so I'll have to look them up.

    I think I'd mention as well though, Sir Francis Bacon's novel New Atlantis. Not really a story set in the future, but obviously his idea of a utopian society. It's also where much of the modern myth of Atlantis being a much more advanced society comes from (the Atlantians Plato originally wrote about were very wealthy, but not really any more advanced, scientifically or otherwise, than the Athenians of his time). But I guess that's another example of how people do often look to the past as some golden age, when people were wiser and possessed some kind of knowledge that we've somehow lost.

  • old_jolly2old_jolly2 Member Posts: 453
    The 'gift' of "not being able to 'live' the future" is actually a warrant of your own to hold. Just think basically , what kind of a defence can you rise up against such a one that can clairsees the future so far away and so greater in shape ?

    This is what people did not understand , and may be understood but used it against those to gain influence , generally and obviously involving money-making efforts , like the con-artists do.

    There is no beginning and there will be no end that we need an information of. The only information that counts as valuable and necessary is what concerns us , and the other is barred away by limits the nature imposes on us, or cannot be computed , and , or cannot be proven in sound health.

    Who would care if Hitler actually was a person , not just a figure created by multiple men to drive a nation ? Why would I care ?

    I know this that there are things people don't look , because they are somehow certain about them. What I say to the OP will be :

    " Fasten your seatbelt ! " :)

Sign In or Register to comment.