A future history is a postulated history of the future that some science fiction authors construct as a common background for fiction. History is the study of the past particularly the written record Those who study history as a Profession are called Historians Etymology The future is commonly understood to contain all events that have yet to occur Sometimes the author publishes a timeline of events in the history, while other times the reader can reconstruct the order of the stories from information provided therein. Definition A chronology may be either relative &mdashthat is locating related events relative to each other&mdashor ''absolute'' &mdashlocating The term appears to have been coined by John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, in the February 1941 issue of that magazine, in reference to Robert A. Heinlein's Future History. John Wood Campbell Jr (June 8 1910 – July 11 1971 was an important Science fiction editor and writer Analog Science Fiction and Fact is an American Science fiction Magazine. Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7 1907 – May 8 1988 was an American Novelist and Science fiction Writer. This article focuses on future histories in general For Robert A Neil R. Jones is generally credited as the first author to create a future history. Neil Ronald Jones ( 29 May, 1909 - 15 February, 1988) was an American author who worked for the state of New York. 
A set of stories which share a backdrop but are not really concerned with the sequence of history in their universe are rarely considered future histories. For example, neither Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga nor George R. R. Martin's 1970s short stories which share a backdrop are generally considered future histories. Lois McMaster Bujold (born November 2, 1949, Columbus, Ohio) is an American author of Science fiction and Fantasy The Vorkosigan Saga is a series of Science fiction novels and short stories by Lois McMaster Bujold, most of which concern Miles Vorkosigan, a physically George Raymond Richard Martin ( September 20, 1948) sometimes referred to as GRRM, is an American Author and Screenwriter This article is about the Decade 1970-1979 For the Year 1970 see 1970. Standalone stories which trace an arc of history are rarely considered future histories. For example, Walter M. Miller Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz is not generally considered a future history. Walter Michael Miller Jr ( January 23, 1923 – January 9, 1996) was an American Science fiction author A Canticle for Leibowitz is a post-apocalyptic Science fiction Novel by American Walter M
Earlier, some works were published which constituted "future history" in a more literal sense - i. e. , stories or whole books purporting to be excerpts of a history book from the future and which are written in the form of a history book - i. e. , having no personal protagonists but rather describing the development of nations and societies over decades and centuries. Such works include:
Asimov retained in part this earlier form of Future History in prefacing each of The Foundation Series stories by a pseudo-historical quotation from the "Encyclopedia Galactica". Isaac Asimov (c January 2 1920 &ndash April 6 1992 ˈaɪzək ˈæzɪmʌv originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as, was a Russian The Foundation Series is an epic Science fiction series written over a span of forty-four years by Isaac Asimov. The Encyclopedia Galactica is a fictional or hypothetical Encyclopedia of a future Galaxy -spanning Civilization, containing all the Knowledge The same practice was followed by later writers, such as Jerry Pournelle in his own future history series. Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American Science fiction Writer, Essayist and Journalist
Also Poul Anderson's story "Inside Straight" is prefaced by an excerpt from a future history book, with a very precise reference: "Simon Vardis, a short History of Pre-Commonwealth Politics, Reel I, Frame 617". Poul William Anderson ( November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American Science fiction author who wrote during a Golden
Other notable future histories include:
Unlike alternate history, where alternative outcomes are ascribed to past events, future history postulates certain outcomes to events in the writer's present and future. Walter Warren Wagar ( June 5, 1932, Baltimore Maryland – November 16, 2004, Vestal New York better known as W A Short History of the Future is a book by W Warren Wagar which was first published in 1989 and underwent two substantive revisions ( 1992 & Poul William Anderson ( November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American Science fiction author who wrote during a Golden The Psychotechnic League is a Future history created by Science fiction writer Poul Anderson. Poul William Anderson ( November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American Science fiction author who wrote during a Golden Nicholas van Rijn (2376 to c 2500 AD is a fictional character who plays the central role in the first half of Poul Anderson 's Technic History. Dominic Flandry is the central character in the second half of Poul Anderson 's Technic History Science fiction. Franklin Patrick Herbert Jr ( October 8 1920 &ndash February 11 1986) was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American The Dune universe, or Duniverse, is the political, scientific, and social fictional setting of author Frank Laurence van Cott Niven (born April 30, 1938 Los Angeles California) is a US Science fiction author. Known Space is the fictional setting of several Science fiction novels and short stories written by author Larry Niven. Jerry Eugene Pournelle (born August 7, 1933) is an American Science fiction Writer, Essayist and Journalist The fictional CoDominium universe is a Future history (now alternate history) setting for the books in the CoDominium Series by Jerry Pournelle. William Olaf Stapledon ( May 10, 1886 &ndash September 6, 1950) was a British philosopher and author of several influential works Last and First Men A Story of the Near and Far Future is a Science fiction novel written in 1930 by the British author Olaf Stapledon. The two brothers Arkady (Арка́дий; August 28, 1925 &ndash October 12, 1991) and Boris (Бори́с; born The Noon Universe ( Russian term "Мир Полудня" or "Мир Полдня" - "World of Noon" is a fictional future alternate universe Cordwainer Smith — pronounced CORDwainer — was the Pseudonym used by American Author Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger ( July In the Science fiction of Cordwainer Smith, the Instrumentality of Mankind refers both to Smith's personal Future history and universe and to Neil Ronald Jones ( 29 May, 1909 - 15 February, 1988) was an American author who worked for the state of New York. Henry Beam Piper ( March 23, 1904 – c November 6, 1964) was an American Science fiction author Carolyn Janice Cherry (born September 1, 1942) better known by the Pseudonym C The Alliance-Union universe is a Fictional universe developed by Science fiction and Fantasy author C Paul J McAuley (born April 23, 1955) a British botanist award-winning author and self-described science Junkie. Isaac Asimov (c January 2 1920 &ndash April 6 1992 ˈaɪzək ˈæzɪmʌv originally Исаак Озимов but now transcribed into Russian as, was a Russian The Foundation Series is an epic Science fiction series written over a span of forty-four years by Isaac Asimov. Retroactive continuity is the deliberate changing of previously established facts in a work of serial fiction George Reginald Turner ( 16 October 1916 - 8 June 1997) was an Australian writer and critic best known for the Science fiction Octavia Estelle Butler ( June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American Science fiction Writer, one The Patternist series (also known as the Patternmaster series) is a group of Science fiction novels by Octavia E Gene Wolfe (born May 7, 1931, New York New York) is an American Science fiction and Fantasy writer The Book of the New Sun is a novel in four parts written (1980–83 by Science fiction and Fantasy author Gene Wolfe. James Benjamin Blish ( East Orange, New Jersey, May 23, 1921 – Henley-on-Thames, July 30, 1975) was an James Benjamin Blish ( East Orange, New Jersey, May 23, 1921 – Henley-on-Thames, July 30, 1975) was an Clifford Donald Simak ( August 3, 1904 - April 25, 1988) was a major American Science fiction writer City is a 1952 Science fiction Fix-up novel by Clifford D Simak. Alan Dean Foster (born November 18 1946) is a prolific American writer of Science fiction and Fantasy Novels and movie The Humanx Commonwealth is a fictional interstellar ethical/political entity featured in the Science fiction novels of Alan Dean Foster. For the 1995 film see Judge Dredd (film. For the Reggae / Ska performer see Judge Dread. 2000 AD may refer to 2000 AD (comics - The British Weekly Sci-Fi comic Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (ˈɝsələ ˈkroʊbɚ ləˈgwɪn (born October 21, 1929) is an American author The Hainish Cycle is the setting for a number of Science fiction novels and stories of Ursula K Alternate history or alternative history is a subgenre of Speculative fiction (or Science fiction) and Historical fiction
The essential difference is that the writer of alternate history is in possession of knowledge of the actual outcome of a certain event, and that knowledge influences also the description of the event's alternate outcome. The writer of future history does not have such knowledge, such works being based on speculations and predictions current at the time of writing - which often turn out to be wildly inaccurate.
For example, in 1933 H.G. Wells postulated in The Shape of Things to Come a Second World War in which Nazi Germany and Poland are evenly matched militarily, fighting an indecisive war over ten years; and Poul Anderson's early 1950s Psychotechnic League depicted a world undergoing a devastating nuclear war in 1958, yet by the early twenty-first century managing not only to rebuild the ruins on Earth but also engage in extensive space colonization of the Moon and several planets. Herbert George Wells (21 September 1866 &ndash 13 August 1946 He was an outspoken socialist and a pacifist, his later works becoming increasingly political The Shape of Things to Come is a work of Science fiction by H World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are the common English names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Poland (Polska officially the Republic of Poland Poul William Anderson ( November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American Science fiction author who wrote during a Golden The Psychotechnic League is a Future history created by Science fiction writer Poul Anderson. A writer possessing knowledge of the actual swift collapse of Poland in World War II and the enormous actual costs of far less ambitious space programs in a far less devastated world would have been unlikely to postulate such outcomes. A Space Odyssey was set in the future and featured developments in space travel and habitation which have not occurred on the timescale postulated. 2001 A Space Odyssey is a 1968 Science fiction film directed by Stanley Kubrick, written by Kubrick and Arthur C
A problem with future history science fiction is that it will date and be overtaken by real historical events, for instance H. Beam Piper's future history, which included a nuclear war in 1973, and much of the future history of Star Trek. There are several ways this is dealt with.
First, some authors set their stories in an indefinite future, often in a society where the current calendar has been disrupted due to a societal collapse or undergone some form of distortion due to the impact of technology. Related to the first, some stories are set in the very remote future and only deal with the author's contemporary history in a sketchy fashion, if at all (e. g. the original Foundation Trilogy by Asimov). Another related case is where stories are set in the near future, but with an explicitly allohistorical past, as in Ken MacLeod's Engines of Light series. Ken MacLeod (born 2 August 1954 an award-winning Scottish Science fiction writer lives in South Queensferry near Edinburgh. The Engines of Light Trilogy consists of three Science fiction novels by Ken MacLeod: Cosmonaut Keep (2000 US paperback ISBN
In other cases, such as the Star Trek universe, the merging of the fictional history and the known history is done through extensive use of retroactive continuity. Retroactive continuity is the deliberate changing of previously established facts in a work of serial fiction In yet other cases, such as the Doctor Who television series and the fiction based on it, much use is made of secret history, in which the events that take place are largely secret and not known to the general public. Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. A secret history (or shadow history) is a revisionist interpretation of either fictional or real (or known History which is claimed to have been deliberately
As with Heinlein, some authors simply write a detailed future history and accept the fact that events will overtake it, making the sequence into a de facto alternate history. Alternate history or alternative history is a subgenre of Speculative fiction (or Science fiction) and Historical fiction
Lastly, some writers formally transform their future histories into alternate history, once they had been overtaken by events. Alternate history or alternative history is a subgenre of Speculative fiction (or Science fiction) and Historical fiction For example, Poul Anderson started The Psychotechnic League history in the early 1950s, assuming a nuclear war in 1958 - then a future date. Poul William Anderson ( November 25, 1926 – July 31, 2001) was an American Science fiction author who wrote during a Golden Year 1958 ( MCMLVIII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar of the Gregorian calendar. When it was republished in the 1980s, a new foreword was added explaining how that history's timeline diverged from ours and led to war.