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Bewildering Stories

Special Challenge 508

How Can I Go to Morrow?

“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” — Niels Bohr
“You know tomorrow has arrived when you can say, ‘It’s too late’.” — proverb
“Free show tomorrow!” — sign at a movie theater in the 1920’s. The sign was still there the next day.
“Jam yesterday, jam tomorrow but never jam today.” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

In Robert Earle’s “Looking Back at What Lay Ahead”:

  1. The predictions implied by the old analyst’s future history are undoubtedly intended to be provocative, and all readers will surely take exception to at least some of them.

    1. Which do you think are the least probable?
    2. The most probable?
    3. What predictions would you substitute, and for which on the list? Reminder: the list may not exceed ten.
  2. How does the narrator’s own family exemplify some of the ten events he lists?

  3. At the end, the narrator tears up his list of ten significant events or developments. Would the conclusion be overstated if he looked forward rather than backwards and confronted his despair more directly?

  4. Alternate and future histories are staples of science fiction. Their implied “What if...?” scenarios are also apparently tools for formulating and analyzing government policy. Are such approaches: or ?

  5. Bonus questions: There is no true future tense in English or in any of the primordial Indo-European languages. Romance languages such as French, Italian and Spanish have evolved one, but what is it based on?

    1. Do any languages in other language families have a true future tense?

    2. Does grammar shape the way latter-day speakers of Indo-European think about the future? Or does it shape the way they talk about it?

    Responses welcome!

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