Monday, 26 October 2015

One Story Grows Into An Exotic Future History

Perhaps the most exotic fictitious future in sf was created by James Blish: a timeline extending from Haertel surviving on Mars to Martels' disembodied consciousness surviving inside a computer. Between these two end points is Thor Wald, revering Haertel and receiving a Dirac message (and see here) sent to Martels' computer. The timeline contains quite a few other exotica, including a High Earth/Traitors' Guild/Green Exarchy period (and see here) and a world-line cruiser traveling for 8873 to 8704 along the world-line of a planet on the rim of a galaxy eleven million light years away.

This bizarre future history grew in two stages. First, the single story, "Beep," featuring Thor Wald, set in our future, includes messages from several further futures. Secondly, when "Beep" was expanded as The Quincunx Of Time, connections to three other works were added:

Welcome To Mars (Haertel);
"A Style in Treason" (The Traitors' Guild etc);
Midsummer Century (Martels).

Since Midsummer Century was being written while "Beep" was being expanded, a reference to Wald was included in ...Century.

The result is neither a pyramidal future history like those of Heinlein and Anderson nor a more linear sequence like Blish's own Cities In Flight or The Seedling Stars. Instead, several otherwise independent works have been interestingly connected.