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The novel that I'm inching forward on (more like millimetering forward on) is set in the future, and that's got me thinking about what does and doesn't change in the future, or, to put it another way, how far in the future you'd have to go before something had disappeared or was forgotten entirely. Tech is easy to lose--it can be lost in 20 years, if it's replaced by other things. (This may not seem like a loss, but it is: the skill to use anything is still a skill, even if it's an obsolete skill.)

But other things really stick around--like religions. Go back a thousand years, and the big players that we've got on the religious field today were still there. A THOUSAND YEARS.** And not nation-states, but senses of peoples--they're tenacious, too. Tribalism I guess is the negative-connotation word for this.

I think of this, because some of the things authors want to get rid of by setting novels in the future are things like particular religions or national/tribal identity. And the truth is, I can pretty much accept that, if the story catches me up. It's only when I look at history that I get to thinking about plausibility and implausibility.

**It's true that how religions or the sense of being a people manifest themselves change--flavors of Buddhism or Christianity in 1015 was a lot different from those flavors in 2015, and that leaves lots of room for fun imagination. But the actual thing itself doesn't just disappear. Even religions that are no longer actively practiced remain alive culturally.


( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2015 11:48 am (UTC)
Of course, you can have the fun of radically morphing a tech and still more a religion....
May. 19th, 2015 11:49 am (UTC)
Absolutely! I love reading that (and I like trying to imagine it for writing purposes, too).
May. 19th, 2015 12:06 pm (UTC)
My stories tend to be set in the present & with a lot of nodding into the past. Into myth & legend too. I can see how things have changed in that respect - we see the old tales as whimsy & yet, myth & legend informs our reality, whether we like it or not!

Religion is something else. I don't really do religion. ;) I like tribal though.
May. 19th, 2015 12:27 pm (UTC)
we see the old tales as whimsy

Yes, things that once were terrifying become merely cute--we still feel terrified of things, but what those things are has changed.
May. 19th, 2015 12:10 pm (UTC)
Get back beyond the Abrahamics though and religion becomes a thing of mystery and wonder.

It may explain why no one much sets anything in the Neolithic- so many strangenesses to deal with amongst the more knowable.
May. 19th, 2015 12:28 pm (UTC)
What strangenesses are you thinking of?
(no subject) - cmcmck - May. 19th, 2015 12:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - May. 19th, 2015 12:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cmcmck - May. 19th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2015 12:22 pm (UTC)
Who would have thought, a thousand years ago, that the ancient pagan religions would be making a comeback now? I don't think it's a reaction against technology, either; most Pagans I know are very much into technology.
May. 19th, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC)
And plenty of pre-Christian traditions and habits continued on even when Christianity was superimposed on top, maybe not as organized faiths, but as habits and folk beliefs.
(no subject) - amaebi - May. 19th, 2015 12:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - May. 19th, 2015 12:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amaebi - May. 19th, 2015 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - May. 20th, 2015 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amaebi - May. 20th, 2015 11:15 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC)
The island nation Seychelles will probably be gone in the future: http://suzannesmomsblog.com/2015/05/17/climate-change-movie/
May. 19th, 2015 12:29 pm (UTC)
Probably the Maldives, too. That's something I've been thinking about for this story: how much the sea will rise. I loved how Paolo Bacigalupi handled it in Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities.
(no subject) - yamamanama - May. 20th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2015 12:38 pm (UTC)
I have been thinking about this while writing one of my WIPs, because I have to keep reminding myself that history is often lost and misremembered, even within one generation. This strikes me as ludicrous, and yet I see it all the time. Unless people keep good records, it's gone... and even if they do, it can be misremembered if the records were written by someone with bias, or if there are conflicting sources.
May. 19th, 2015 12:52 pm (UTC)
Which also gets into the fact that history can be deliberately manipulated, what story gets told, etc., and the maddening fact that straight-out lies can be remembered as history and then influence events on down through the years. [ETA: Which is what you're saying, dur. I started typing my answer after your first sentence, which is the equivalent of interrupting :-P]

Did you ever read the Oz books? Ozma of Oz had a magic carpet that would let her cross the Deadly Desert. it unrolled continuously in front of her and any people with her and rolled up continuously behind her and her party. That's always struck me as the perfect metaphor for people's sense of history, unless they exert themselves to keep that carpet from rolling up behind them. How much do people remember or know about family history? Without someone who's interested in the old stories, or in genealogy, not much. I don't know much beyond my grandparents' days. Fortunately my sister has been in touch with uncles--this is on one side of the family--and has saved stuff. And my dad has some records of the other side of the family. But in my own memory, the carpet has rolled up behind my grandparents' feet.

Ozma on the Magic Carpet

Edited at 2015-05-19 12:56 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - asakiyume - May. 20th, 2015 04:30 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mnfaure - May. 20th, 2015 07:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sovay - May. 19th, 2015 06:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - asakiyume - May. 20th, 2015 04:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mnfaure - May. 20th, 2015 07:44 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2015 12:50 pm (UTC)
To answer the question, ambiguously tens of thousands of years in the future.

Religions can be radically different from country to country. Take Burma and Laos, for instance.
May. 19th, 2015 12:53 pm (UTC)
Religions can be radically different from country to country. Take Burma and Laos, for instance.

Absolutely! And any large religion has lots of sects. So yeah, you can play around with that lots and lots, if you're imagining the future.

Tens of thousands of years makes you safe, I think. You can imagine what you want ;-)
(no subject) - yamamanama - May. 19th, 2015 01:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 19th, 2015 01:07 pm (UTC)
Kinship groups and larger groups are pretty hardwired into us.

I like to see the ideas about history, what it is and who records it and how, and the influence that has.

Religion . . . too much fiction I see handles it badly. Lois McMaster Bujold did a beautiful job in her Chalion books.
May. 20th, 2015 04:08 am (UTC)
The thing that I was mulling over was the fact that so often in stories, people use a setting in the future to get rid of some aspect of present-day culture that they dislike (contrariwise, they often highlight or exaggerate things they dislike--that's the dystopian instinct), and one such thing is present-day religion. And yet, religion won't easily just vanish. And yeah, I agree that lots of stories treat religion poorly (in the sense of simplistically).
(no subject) - sartorias - May. 20th, 2015 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
May. 20th, 2015 04:09 am (UTC)
I remember a poem you wrote about rocks that really impressed me; you had a sense of time on a geologic scale. That's very science fictional.
May. 20th, 2015 07:47 am (UTC)
I agree that it would have to take something pretty cataclysmic to erase long-established religions; there is just so much carry over into everyday life. Also, when someone wants to stamp something out, it often makes others hold all the more tightly to it.
May. 20th, 2015 09:18 pm (UTC)
Also, when someone wants to stamp something out, it often makes others hold all the more tightly to it.

May. 20th, 2015 08:15 pm (UTC)
In my current work, I think a lot about skills loss. If something was a wanted skill 50 years ago, and folks live to 3-score-years-and-ten, then you still have LOADs of people around, 40 years on, who learned the skill, even though it was declining, when they were aged 20, who are now only 60. By which time, it can have passed into a romanticised, gentile hobby. Or a differently romanticised, geeky hobby. Or hobby/bit of teaching / bit of well-it-is-an-artform income generation. The skills of making daguerreotypes (for example) is not lost.
I have friends who knap flints. Not to make flints for flintlock guns, but to make projectiles to kill animals (or capable of killing them) - friends who are living in the same country as friends who follow ancient religions (family never converted from Norse paganism, choice to follow Druidism). Skills are at least as persistent as religion, from what I've seen.
May. 20th, 2015 09:16 pm (UTC)
Good point. I actually wasn't trying to argue that the skills were going to be totally forgotten (though now I'm thinking maybe I kind of implied that), and certainly not irrecoverably, but just that they were going to be *largely* forgotten. What I was really trying to do was think about what things change fast and what things change slowly. Fashion changes fast, for instance. Clothing technology changes somewhat more slowly, but still pretty fast. But certain traditions change really slowly.

Not that there can't be exceptions, and not that a story needs to hew to that observation, necessarily. Just that it's worth noting that some things seem, generally, more change resistant than others.
May. 22nd, 2015 12:14 pm (UTC)
As I passed by this, this morning, I suddenly thought of throwbacks. I don't think it's easy to remember, now, that English lads of the late 1950s and earlish 1960s thought of themselves as emulating Edwardian dress. But they did....
May. 23rd, 2015 05:28 pm (UTC)
I didn't know that! Thank you ♥
May. 23rd, 2015 02:21 am (UTC)
A generation goes and a generation comes, But the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; And hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, Then turning toward the north, The wind continues swirling along; And on its circular courses the wind returns… What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. Ecc. 1:4-6,9,10
May. 23rd, 2015 05:27 pm (UTC)
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )

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