Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Science Fiction That Isn't Science Fiction

Millions of years may elapse, hundreds of thousands of generations be born and die, but inexorably the time will come when the declining warmth of the sun will no longer suffice to melt the ice thrusting itself forward from the poles; when the human race, crowding more and more about the equator, will finally no longer find even there enough heat for life; when gradually even the last trace of organic life will vanish; and the earth, an extinct frozen globe like the moon, will circle in deepest darkness and in an ever narrower orbit about the equally extinct sun, and at last fall into it. Other planets will have preceded it, others will follow it; instead of the bright, warm solar system with its harmonious arrangement of members, only a cold, dead sphere will still pursue its lonely path through universal space. And what will happen to our solar system will happen sooner or later to all the other systems of our island universe; it will happen to all the other innumerable island universes, even to those the light of which will never reach the earth while there is a living human eye to receive it.
Arthur C. Clarke?
Olaf Stapledon?
Stephen Baxter?
Nope. Friedrich Engels.

Via infinite thought

6 Comments:

Blogger Adam Roberts said...

Very cool; though (a pedant writes) I think you mean the slightly less angelic 'Engels'.

October 28, 2009 9:54 AM  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I'd blame typing on my netbook but really it's just general idiocy. Corrected anyhow.

October 28, 2009 10:19 AM  
Blogger George Berger said...

That fine quote reminded me of a related one that I posted on the BSFA Forum not too long ago. Instead of depicting the endtimes, this one depicts our current Copernican state. I cut-and-paste from my post:
n Endless space countless luminous spheres, round each of which some dozen smaller illuminated ones revolve, hot at the core and covered over with a hard cold crust; on this crust a moldy film has produced living and knowing beings: this is empirical truth, the real, the world. Yet for a being who thinks, it is a precarious position to stand on one of those numberless spheres freely floating in boundless space, without knowing whence or whither, and to be only one of innumerable similar beings that throng, press, and toil, restlessly and rapidly arising and passing away in beginningless and endless time. Here there is nothing permanent but matter alone, and the recurrence of the same varied organic forms by means of certain ways and channels that inevitably exist as they do. All that empirical science can teach is only the more precise nature and rule of these events. ....." That's the opening salvo of the Atheist philosopher Schopenhauer's THE WORLD AS WILL AND REPRESENTATION, VOLUME II. I know of no more powerful expression of our true insignificance (forget Weinberg). All SF people should know this, as should all those intellectuals who chat about "the thin layer of civilization." This is a brilliant statement, written before 1859. It's better in German.

October 31, 2009 8:15 AM  
Blogger Term said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 06, 2009 4:56 AM  
Anonymous Term Papers said...

Wow! That's very interesting.I would love and a link back to your Blog of course.

November 07, 2009 7:24 AM  
Blogger George Berger said...

I don't know if you mean me or Mr McAuley, but I'm a mere contributor and no blogger.

November 09, 2009 6:19 AM  

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