Fiction about the far future, on the other hand, digs deep into the past. Given all the problems of attempting to predict the near-future - black swans, non-linear dynamics, the law of unintended consequences - it certainly makes no sense in consciously trying to project any part of the present on to the far future. Instead, writers suggest that archetypal human narratives and historical principles will survive every kind of technological change, and reappear in different forms. James Blish's Cities in Flight series, for instance, is underpinned by the theories of Otto Spengler. Isaac Asimov's Foundation series was inspired by Gibbons' The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Frank Herbert's Dune and Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun are different takes on Messianic figures. Old-school space opera, with its palaces and empires, its sword-wielding heroes and princesses, echo Hollywood's romance with medieval history. And so on, and so forth. Like fantasy, the narratives of far-future science fiction are shaped by patterns of Story. Unless you believe, like those who champion the technological Singularity (aka Rise of the Machines, or the Rapture of the Nerds), that the far future lies on the other side of an intellectual event horizon. That the far future will not only be impossible to predict, but also impossible to comprehend. That it is an end to Story and the heat death of science fiction, and we cannot utter a single syllable about what follows. But where's the fun in that?