Transformations: Understanding World History Through Science Fiction is a book that pairs a range of science fiction stories with elementary “review sections” about world events, ostensibly to lure teenagers into being interested in history. Whether it achieves this goal is debatable, but it did start me thinking about the relationship between science fiction and history — future history, that is. If you could make a chart of future history, what would it look like? My dream is for an infinitely large timeline, detailed with the political and environmental nuances of hundreds of future worlds, but space dictates this simple graph of major novels. Still, we see something immediately: the lion’s share of science fiction books take place within 1,000 years of the present day. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that recorded, tangible human history stretches back about the same amount into the past.
Thanks to Jona Bechtolt for his help laying out my vision.