Continuing the Dave Creek theme of the week, today I’d like Dave to talk about what future history is and his experience in building one for his worlds.
All of my science fiction stories take place within a common “future history.” Such constructions are a long-standing tradition within SF.
The term originated with editor John W. Campbell of Astounding Science Fiction, in reference to a number of Robert Heinlein’s stories, including “The Roads Must Roll,” Blowups Happen,” and many others. Heinlein added stories to the Future History series for decades.
One of the aspects of the original STAR TREK that fascinated me was when I read THE MAKING OF STAR TREK by Stephen E. Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry. It details the work that went into creating the background of the show, including the Federation, the Prime Directive, what the uniforms looked like, what the limits of their future technology was, that kind of thing. That was the first time I realized that the background to a story could give an “added value,” so to speak to the story itself. Some readers, I know, even get into a TV show or book’s background enough that it’s referred to as “continuity porn” — being primarily interested in the fictional background and not the story itself.
I’d not THAT into it, but I do try to keep things consistent.
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series and Poul Anderson’s stories of Nicholas van Rijn and Dominic Flandry have also been influences on my own attempts at a future history. From the beginning, I’ve kept an extensive Concordance detailing my characters, alien species, worlds, cultures, and technology.
I quickly learned in reading print SF rather than just watching TV and movie SF that the visual media often play fast and loose with their backgrounds. Captain Kirk often violated the Prime Directive for the purposes of a particular story. Or sometimes people forget — a couple of decades later on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, Data’s cat Spot was male — in the movie GENERATIONS (s)he somehow had kittens!
But I don’t consider it to be that difficult to keep track of everything, and I feel weaving in some of the same characters, alien races, and worlds through different stories adds to their reality. But such considerations should never become more important than the story itself.
Here’s a link to my website that will take you to a list of all my stories that are set within my Future History:
Thanks again, Dave, for your guest post and insight!