Culture

Editorial – July 2023: History Ain’t What It Used To Be.

Hello everyone,

A lot of our SF history is something we people of a particular age is something we’ve actually grown up with. For films, SF probably came of age with ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956) but definitely with ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968). TV SF was a bit different. Certainly ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Trek’ from the longevity and popularity. Books were certainly a generation thing. Back in the 1960s, there were a lot fewer so easy to read SF books from earlier generations, providing you could use a library and find a decent second-hand bookshop and had a knowledge of the authors. There were fewer books about SF books.

You would think that in the Internet Age, where knowledge is more accessible, some of the young of today would have an innate knowledge for history of our genre, although I suspect some of the problem is keeping up with what is being released today, let alone the desire or space or time to have a collecting or hoarding habit for the earlier material. The latter might change with age as we all get nostalgic for things of our youth or earlier. What we had is probably going to seem antique by their standards.

Of course, some early SF has dated. We wouldn’t even consider having Venus or Mars as inhabitable now and it took space missions to both planets to show it wasn’t and SF lost several famous stories. Today, the possibilities of life on Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, while although aquatic, gives hope for non-solar planets to have life within our own time frame. Whether these aliens would visit us or not is still speculation but at least the military isn’t debasing UAPs quite so readily anymore.

History Ain’t What It Used To Be.
History Ain’t What It Used To Be.

Even so, assuming we survive global warming, I can see a future where we are going to lack younger Science Fiction archivists. Our own SF collections might ultimately be seen as assets to be sold or simply because insurance might be too high. For those of you have original comicbook pages, have you found them hard to impossible to insure because they are one of a kind? The way my insurance company acted, it was pretty obvious I wasn’t the first to ask. Keeping the past alive means a disposition to collecting although, thankfully, relatives are less likely to throw collections away if they know they are valuable although more likely to sell on so at least it isn’t lose.

That’s moving away from the point. We were brought up in times when SF was still finding its feet in every media and everything was a milestone, even the bad stuff. The SF, certainly on film and TV, is now on safer foundations with no one thinking its only a 5 minute wonder fad. For us, it is easier because we’ve lived through the times to want to wallow in what we were brought up with. Even now, even with the likes of ‘Doctor Who’, the number of us who have watched the missing stories are getting smaller, let alone any with strong memories of them.

Probably your own sprogs, with an SF bent are less likely to look beyond their own lifetimes or say others will pay more attention to the early stuff. How to become old really quick. About the only thing likely to turn their heads is how much the merchandise is worth and, I suspect, much of it is way outside of their budget let alone store after we’ve gone. Saying that, they might recognise keeping samples pristine, boxes as well, as a means to keep some worth but equally it might be, assuming there is a world our future generations can live in, because an archaeology find as some vaulted collections are opened up.

History tells us what we’ve done before, a lot of what we know hasn’t worked and what to avoid in the future. When we have people today who don’t even know who won World War Two, let alone why, leaving it open for extreme groups to rise again which is also scary. Bet they’ve been consulting their history books, assuming they can read, with the intention of ‘getting it right the next time’.

For each generation, the world is a lot more different than the last, even though somethings are still the same, just with a different dressing. For people to lose how we can connect to the past is going to raise generations of people who are only going to live in the now with maybe an eye for the future than the past. I wonder how many will look at Science Fiction and say well your fiction never showed the real future looking to the past outside of time travel stories.

They actually have a point although we can always point to the original 1968 film ‘Planet Of The Apes’ finale where George Taylor inspects an old pair of glasses and dentures to point out to Dr. Zaius that there was once an intelligent species of Mankind but not realising he had returned to the Earth in the distant future. No sign of books or anything else to make a connection to the past. No wonder the TV series version brought it to a time when humans could still talk and showed signs of an earlier period, like an underground station, to make it more connectable.

Even so, the implication that any civilisation’s bits and pieces can be gone in a few centuries should worry us all of any age. Yes, the likes of the Roman and Greek civilisations have left their buildings in many places and coins and such are found but so much is gone. What will we have to show for our current civilisation other than the waste we made for ourselves? I doubt if the Roman Empire put much thought into preserving its own civilisation.

Hardly a good way to be remembered. Any good that we might have had, even if its just the quality of our music and various media will be sadly gone. What’s the good of it is being recorded digitally when no one will have the means to hook into it if the machinery doesn’t work or seen as too primitive to bother? A nuclear war is likely to wipe out all things digital anyway unless its protected regularly and updated.

If the prospect of being replaced by any form of Artificial Intelligence, I doubt if it will be programmed to make an observation of any of our achievements. If it recognises any to be observed from then it would be to prevent any survivors from learning about rebellion to maintain some sort of control.

Interestingly, that is a Science Fiction trope but I doubt if we will have any time travellers from the past arriving to tell them otherwise, let alone any from the far future coming back to say such a thing as well. Where the latter is concerned, I doubt if anyone would be left anyway.

Science Fiction always has an eye for the future but we never said it would be definitive. As a history of wishful thinking with measures of optimism and pessimism, it is a thinking person’s genre that needs constant re-enforcing and not just a safety blanket from the real world. Ideas are important and seeing how various people over the decades have done so shouldn’t be neglected.

History geeks are therefore important to encourage and not just in our genre but in general if only to say that there once was a sentient species on this planet. We might have tried harder to survive but we messed up. Learn from our mistakes and keep a record of our past. Science Fiction might speculate on the future but it gave us dreams to think about and that should never stop. Who knows? The human race might survive.

Thank you, take care, good night and anyone feeling nostalgic?

Geoff Willmetts

editor: www.SFCrowsnest.info

A Zen thought: Look at our works and realise even bad art is revered.

What Qualities Does A Geek Have: Frankly, to be honest, even when we don’t like it.

The Reveal: Our standards aren’t that high, ours just starts where others end.

Observation: The saying no man is an island. So what does that mean to Odysseus and one of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. agents?

Observation: A lot of actors appeared more than once in different roles in the ITV 1960s TV series ‘The Avengers’, although actor Patrick Newell holds the distinction of becoming a recurring character as the spymaster Mother. With the episode ‘Wish You Were Here’, we do actually get his surname as Basil Crichton-Latimer is his brother’s son.

 Observation: Something the 1968 film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and the 1989 film ‘Millennium’ have in common is showing people in space/aircraft without really showing what they are really like when they have passengers. All right, I’ve still never stepped in an aircraft but have seen footage but would I be wrong in assuming people do quieten down a lot after a near collision?

Observation: Something occurred to me looking at the dual use runway photographs of Tracy Island. Would they really have two elevators from the main house down to the control tower and to the Thunderbird 2 hanger or would they use one? I mean any guest would want to go to their aircraft not to the control tower.

 Is It Just Me?: Look at the photo of Thunderbird 2. I don’t think those white squares in front of the pod are supposed to be white. I think they are supposed to be lights. That should set a poser for model-makers wiring their model for lights. Before you ask, yes, I am thinking of doing it although the original focus was on the tail-section and wing lights. I’m going to need a bigger model kit.

 Observation: OK, here’s a quandary with the original ‘Predator’ film. Blaine gets shot through his back, where ol’ painless’ ammunition is. So how come Mac could still fire his weapon when it should have been blitzed? It isn’t as though the hunter shot a blast that ignited in Blaine’s chest.

 Observation: No disrespect to the human winners but I would like to see one Predator film where they actually win. I mean, it must happen from time to time, mustn’t it or else all things end on Earth?

 Observation: For the politically correct, there will now be a series called ‘Nice Histories’ indicating we never had a shitty past.

 Humour: Did you hear about the man who lived in a torch?

He was a light sleeper.

 Feeling Stressed: Well, the editorial above about history will stress all of you.

 

UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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