I read a lot of science fiction (currently finishing Alastair Reynolds’ amazing Blue Remembered Earth) as well as trying to get more into historical fiction. One thing both genres have in common is that people’s lives are really different. The technology is different, the day-to-day minutiae of getting though the day operates in different ways. How people communicate, how they access information, what they do is sometimes quite alien. It’s easy to get distracted by this, especially in science fiction.
“Blue Remembered Earth” is set 150 years in our future, and the technology, and the modes of living it has enabled, are quite stunning. However, I was thinking, imagining people from 150 years ago, in the 1860s, looking at us today. What would they think of our technology, our society?
The gulf is just as great, but all across time, there’s still more in common then different. People still take joy in being with friends, they still fall in love, the cozen and plot, embrace and hate, take a certain satisfaction in a good meal or a good shit, have daily work to get done, eagerly seek news of the wider world, love to tell and hear stories about other people, treasure family bonds, feel eagerness and passion for living, and are adapted to their environment and their social world.
It’s important to remember that. Societies may change (and hopefully improve) but people are people. Humans in the past were not stupid, humans in the future will not be smart. They have been, and will be, in all cases, people.