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[Comments] (4) Science Fiction Set In The Past: Why isn't there more of it? I love it. The past is well understood, it can't change and make your story look stupid, you get to bring back obsolete technologies, and (for values of past before 2004) your characters don't defuse all your plot twists by having cell phones. Steampunk led the way, but nobody followed. Why?

I wrote an alien invasion story set in 1994, and sure, there's some sense in which it's "inaccurate", but also a sense in which it's more accurate than a similar story set in 2014. I know what 1994 was like, and we all know the aliens I made up are not really going to show.

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Posted by kirkjerk at Fri Jan 09 2009 16:16

Not quite the same, but I had a bit of vocabulary failure discussing the setting of "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" to people. It's modern day, but with an alternate past where Israel was destroyed in '48 or so. PDK's "The Man in the High Castle" does the same trick.

The game "Eternal Darkness" for GC had (I think) a time travel type theme, and one of the characters was a military firefighter who had to help clean up fires after the first Gulf War, which for 2002 was an interesting choice.

I guess that's a tangent that came from thinking how military scifi from the 80s and 90s is interesting because of how hellishly amazing weaponry has become... when the bulk of military writing etc comes from WW2 and maybe a bit of Vietnam, it's kind of striking what these weapons can do.

Rambling on a bit more... you wonder about the use of modern weapons against hypothetical alien technologies. On the hand, you don't want to be constrained by your lack of imagination, and fall into the fallacy of thinking tech is going about as far as it's going to go. On the other hand, other things, baring some breakthrough in quantum physics, say, are constrained by regular physics, and some of our technologies are sure to have approached certain "edges of the possible".

Hmm, other examples:
Space: 1889 was an RPG, I'm not sure if it predates steampunk but the idea is about the same.

Interstate '76 and to a lesser extent Autoduel/Car Wars has similar feel, though maybe less sci-fi than you're thinking. I might just be mixing up your idea with alternate history in general.

There was this book "War World" that had a planet that was essentially devolving as it lost contact with the rest of the galaxy. At one point the local wooden biplanes are causing problems for the future-alien-ufo type fighter craft, just because the wood and fabric don't really show up on radar. One of the biplanes takes out an alien kamikaze style, mostly by putting itself into the mighty air intake.

So in short, essentially you're talking alternate history, but with a bit more of an alien or other "future-y" flavor. But I wish I could think of more examples in the 70s/80s/90s for you.

Posted by Leonard at Fri Jan 09 2009 17:10

The one I was expecting you to mention was Spook Country.

Posted by Zed at Fri Jan 09 2009 17:12

Charles Sheffield wrote a series of stories featuring Erasmus Darwin, scientific investigator!

On a related (though it might be hard to say how) note, I'm always vaguely irritated to hear an sf book has been revised to make it more accurate in terms of subsequent science (Pohl revising Kornbluth's Not This August; Pat Murphy revising her own The Shadow Hunter.) I'm not reading it for the accuracy.

Posted by Rachel at Wed Jan 28 2009 13:31

my novel is set in 2014. I like it because I can make the tube run faster, and serbia is joining the EU. plus I get to pick the line-up at EXIT.


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