Robert Heinlein’s Future History Series
Book Two: The Man Who Sold the Moon
Joachim Boaz (wordpress username) made a couple of comments on one of my posts that made a good point. If I may paraphrase, he feels that people who read science fiction should not look at the older sci-fi books in terms of “how it turned out”, or whether or not the author’s “predictions” came true. A story may or may not be predictive but to write a good story is the author’s purpose and that’s how it should be judged.
I totally agree, although to not use one tiny bit of a critical eye when hearing someone’s take on the future (or our present) might be impossible for me. I do know one thing, that (as Joachim Boaz also said in a different way) reading old sci-fi is not a study of the future but a study of the past, of the author’s present.
Thanks for commenting Joachim Boaz, I am willing to hear anything that will make my reading/listening/writing experience deeper and more thoughtful. And you are definitely an “old sci-fi” master! Here is a link to his blog, Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations.
Here is an excerpt from the preface to The Man Who Sold the Moon, the author’s comments that are related to this topic.
The stories in this and later volumes of this series were not written as prophecy, nor as history. The author would be much surprised if any one of them turned out to be close enough to future events to be classified as successful prophecy. They are of the ‘what would happen if’ sort in which the ‘if’, the basic postulate of each story, is some possible change in human environment, latent in our present day technology or culture. Sometimes the possibility is quite remote. Sometimes the postulated possibility is almost a certainty, as in the stories concerned with inter-planetary flight.”
Then later he says “This past decade has been as revolutionary in technology as the century which preceded it. Increasingly each year the wild predictions of science fiction writers are made tame by the daily papers.”
More on The Man Who Sold the Moon in the next post.