Posts tagged ‘time travel’


Recently I read a short story, Waterspider, by Philip K. Dick, which was part of a collection, The Minority Report and other classic stories.

The reason I write this piece is that, in past posts, I have threatened to write a piece about science fiction writers and how, through their imaginations, predicted science fact. I’m still going to do it, with Arthur C. Clarke at the top of my list. However, Philip K. Dick beat me to the punch in a fascinating short story, Waterspider.

In Dick’s short story, the present is the future and scientists have sent a mission of volunteer prisoners into space, reducing their mass. The problem is, they don’t know how to restore the ship’s mass and its one-inch tall occupants upon arrival to their destination. Apparently, even in the future, some things never change.

However, the scientists remember a period in the past when people, known as pre-cogs, existed. The debate was whether the first pre-cog was Jonathan Swift or H.G. Wells. I’m surprised Jules Verne was not in the running. These individuals have the ability to predict the technology of the future, and one of them predicted a solution to mass recovery. These pre-cogs, with this ability unknown to them, were science fiction writers. The present-future scientists were able to travel to the past and decide to bring Poul Anderson, who, in a short story solved this problem.

These future scientist journey back in time to a convention of science fiction writers and meet a host of pre-cogs, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, along with a shy Philip K. Dick.

To say the least, this story blew me away. I encourage you to read it, if you can find it.

May 18, 2015 at 6:05 pm Leave a comment


While riding the train to work, my neighbor would read science fiction. Long retired now, he asked me if I would like science fiction books. I, of course, was more than enthusiastic and bags of books came my way and found a home in my study much to my wife’s displeasure. If you saw my study you would understand her fear for it is overflowing with books read and to be read.
Recently, I began reading these classic works. The authors include the likes of Lester Del Rey, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein and Ursula Le Guin to name a few. Most were published in the fifties and sixties costing as little as fifty cents.
The novel I would like to discuss is one I recently finished reading, The Door Into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein. This book was interesting in that it dealt with the future, a future which is already our past.
Heinlein published this novel in 1956 so it was probably written in the early fifties. The setting of the book is 1970 and the main character travels, via suspended animation, to the year 2000, both needing the author’s speculation of what life would be like in those years.
His take of the not too distant future of 1970 is most interesting. There is talk of a nuclear war with the United States being the target, but it is handled as no more than a minor inconvenience. The year of the war isn’t given and neither is the adversary. My thinking is that it could only be Russia who developed their bomb in 1947. Also, in 1970, robots are beginning to take over the mundane tasks in both domestic and commercial settings. When he gets to the year 2000 he finds society completely changed. The story deals with more of the social rather than the technological changes, but there is a scientist dabbling with time travel which plays an important part of the story for it allows travel into the past. However, this can only be accomplished with great risk for the scientist can set the length of time but cannot control whether the subject goes forward or backward in time.
What amazes me is how the author envisions both years, to compare reality to what he predicts. The world today is full of robot used by industry but nothing like the talking androids, human-like creatures, created by the minds of Asimov and Dick. Time will tell.
I enjoy reading ‘dated’ science fiction and see the author’s take on the future and compare it to what has come to pass.

September 23, 2013 at 10:20 pm 1 comment


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