JF Ptak Science Books Post 2283
"To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death..." Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 51
One way of managing parts of the present and the past is by thinking about the prospects of the future. The universal monochord of prescription, of description, of a possibility of the future, has been an attempt at the hands of a number of people, though it has not been often, and it really is basically a modern invention. And what I mean is more of the science or science fiction development part of looking into the future, and not so much the Platonic development of the ideal state of being, or promises of eternal afterlife in the presence of the creator of the universe tucked away in some ideal somewhere in folded pieces of time.
One of the very earliest of the science fiction adventures into the future belongs to Louis-Sébastien Mercier (6 June 1740 – 25 April 1814, a successful and prolific dramatist) in L'An 2440, rêve s'il en fut jamais (1771, "The Year 2440: A Dream If Ever There Was One"). One aspect of it may or may not have gotten rid of the quote leading this quick post, as different aspects of literature (useless and immoral and whatever) has been eliminated out there in the 25th century. Bad and unwanted lit is gone, along with what used to be the criminal justice system and the idea of "public space", plus taxes, armed forces, slavery, prostitution, beggars (though not necessary the idea of being poor or rich), foreign trade, guilds, individual excesses in dress, and a bunch of other things, plus priests and monks and other religious bits. It was visionary and subversive and published to wild acclaim, one of the best-selling works of the 18th century, which was also banned in France and Spain. IT was the first Utopian work to be set in the future (according to Paul Alken in his Origins of Futuristic Fiction, in a notice in Science Fiction Studies, "Revisiting Mercier...:, volume 30/1, Mach 2003, pp 130-2).