Bewildering Stories welcomes...
Robert Earle has had a 25-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, including positions as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary of State and to the Director of National Intelligence, and he was Senior Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. He has published forty short stories and two novels. In non-fiction he has published an account of his tour of duty in Iraq and was a contributing editor to a collection of essays on North American interdependence.
“Looking Back at What Lay Ahead” falls into the genre not of alternate history but of future history. It is science-fictional in its setting — the year 2033 — but is otherwise realistic in detail.
The story itself is somewhat curious: a retired government policy analyst is asked to write a report listing the ten most crucial events of the past twenty years, presumably because his status makes him objective; he’ll have no axes to grind.
As he makes his list of events and developments — a few hopeful, most quite grim — he realizes that the family around him embodies the helplessness and defeat that most of his list summarizes. In the end, the old man must look forwards rather than backwards and fully confront his own despair.
As a cautionary tale, “Looking Back...” will surely prompt readers to imagine and perhaps even write their own versions. Perhaps some will even be hopeful. But that would really be science fiction, now, wouldn’t it?
Robert Earle’s bio sketch can be found here.
Welcome to Bewildering Stories, Robert. We hope to hear from you again soon and often!
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