Future History; a General and Personal Perspective

Gerald D. Nordley

11 a.m., November 3, 2019

Gerald D. Nordley is a science fiction writer, physicist, and astronautical engineering consultant whose fiction writing is most associated with Analog Science Fiction and Fact. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._David_Nordley)

Here is Mr. Nordley’s summary of his talk:

There are, of course, many efforts to anticipate future events ranging from the weather forecast for tomorrow to projections of the end state of the universe, done by various professionals for economic, environmental, military, and scientific reasons, which more often than not put out a range of possibilities of, for example, the sea level a hundred years from now.

A science fiction writer, however, cannot rely on a range of possibilities. To tell a story, the wave function of the future must collapse to particulars; with backgrounds, names, events and often numbers. These will certainly vary greatly from the details of the reality to come, but may otherwise shed at least qualitative light on possibilities and offer hope or warning regarding what may come to be. Imagine an ocean of post-historical spaghetti, and then extracting one noodle from all off that to use as the background for a story, or set of stories. This is more or less what I and a number of other writers have done.

For this talk, I’ll look at a very focused non-fiction future history of the development of mass-beam propulsion for interstellar travel, then a couple of science-fictional future histories; Robert A. Heinlein’s, and my own.

Because he published his, I will publish mine at some point, and I have graphics! Heinlein’s is in his 1967 collection, The Past through Tomorrow (I have the 1975 Berkley Medallion Books paperback and it’s on page 661). I should have a copy of mine available for the meeting.

My bottom line is that, while nobody can predict the future exactly, close counts, and the exercise is particularly useful in highlighting where not to go.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

Future History: a General and Personal Perspective – Gerald D. Nordley from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.

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