X-Message-Number: 10776
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 06:26:18 -0500
From: Thomas Donaldson <>
Subject: CryoNet #10769 - #10775

Hi everyone!

For Bob Ettinger: There is actually a much older book, still interesting
if you read it right, called (guess what?) YESTERDAY'S TOMORROWS. It's
a discussion of 19th and 18th century literature which we would now call
science fiction, and what it predicted. Things like: yes, we'll certainly
have flight, in balloons. I've lent it out to someone here (next door,
actually) who wanted to read it, but it should be particularly interesting
for its versions of how the 19th Century saw the 20th Century. As you
can guess from my single example, they sometimes got things sort of right
(if you speak very generally) but quite wrong in the details. And sometimes
they didn't work it out at all. The lady to whom I lent it was amused 
by stories in which women retained their semi-worshipped, semi-slavery 
position, for instance. 

What do I mean by reading it right? Very simple. We are very unlikely to
be better able to perceive the future in detail than could the people
of the 19th or 18th centuries. Don't just decide that the people of the
19th Century trying to predict the end of the 20th were simply fools ---
they were no more fools than we are. And we should keep their example in
front of us whenever we make suggestions about what the future will be
like. For whatever it means, they seemed to be least percipient when
it came to political and social changes, but even technology (as in the
balloons example) was hardly predicted with anything near precision.

			Best and long long life,

				Thomas Donaldson

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