Comments: Most plausible sci-fi timelines?

(We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)


Remember the most famous, the original SF timeline--that created by Robert Heinlein in about 1939-1940. Full of plausible guesses although WW2 obviously made it clear very quickly that it was an alternate timeline.

Niven and Pournelle's Codominium history, based on the idea that we got interstellar travel before the US-USSR cold war ended has seen a lot of usage, also.

I also have a place in my heart for James Blish's "Cities in Flight" timeline, which--after all--goes from the present day to the end of universe.

Posted by Steve Newton at December 22, 2013 06:54 PM

Steve -- I am unfamiliar with the Heinlein timeline. Is it online somewhere?

The only book I read related to the CoDominium was The Mote in God's Eye.

I found some references to "Cities in Flight" online ... looked pretty cool!

Posted by Hube at December 23, 2013 01:17 PM

Heinlein generated his during 1939-1941 while selling his first raft of stories to Astounding. It is arguably the first detailed future history ever laid out in a table. It was published in Astounding and you can find the two-page spread in almost any Baen books reprint of "If This Goes On..." or The Past Through Tomorrow. It is the prototype of SF future histories.

Niven and Pournelle wrote only the Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand in the Codominium universe. Otherwise it was pretty much the preserve of Jerry Pournelle alone for his John Christian Falkenburg mercenary stories, a series continued by SM Stirling, plus a few stand-alones like King David's Spaceship. It also provided the background for Pournelle's shared universe set of about five or six books called War World.

James Blish also did a timeline for his Okie "Cities in Flight" series. You can find it in any combo reprint of all four novels of the Okie series. You can essentially skip the first novel as it is an extended prologue that takes place mostly on Earth and drags a lot. The second novel is good, but obviously written as an SF juvenile in the style of the late 1950s. He hits his stride with "Earthman, Come Home" and ends everything grandly (and I do mean EVERYTHING in the universe) in "The Triumph of Time." Most combined volumes also carry an essay about how he based his work on Spengler's cyclical theory of history.

My other honorable mention is H. Beam Piper's Terro-Human Future History, which is also quite good. In a way, Piper closes the gaps between a Heinlein near-future history and an Asimov far-future history.

(Used to teach a course on futurists and future histories awhile back in my own timeline.)

Posted by Steve Newton at December 23, 2013 04:46 PM

Good stuff! Thank you, Steve!

Posted by Hube at December 23, 2013 05:40 PM

Another thing I just thought of: the bad future of "Days of Future Past" took place, interestingly enough in 2013. Because we all remember when the Sentinels took control and killed most of the world's superheroes and put mutants into concentration camps, right?

And Steve, didn't Heinlein also have the World-as-myth series?

Posted by Carl at December 25, 2013 06:10 PM