The Postmodern Past and the Fantasy Future

13 Jan
A View of Earth from Saturn

A View of Earth from Saturn (Photo credit: alpoma)

Readers didn’t have affection for the past anymore because they didn’t believe in it. They’d been told for too long that everything they knew about the past was a lie, that the good men with hard codes were actually the bad men and that the outlaws were either victims of injustice or rebels against conformity – which were the real lies.

People didn’t believe in the past, and they didn’t believe in the present or the future because they were told constantly that they were headed toward one cataclysm or another, that before them lay a smorgasbord of dooms. They believed only in the far future where adventures took place on distant planets nothing like Earth and involved characters little or nothing like contemporary human beings, or they wanted parallel worlds with wizards and warlocks, where all problems were solved with wands, spells, and the summoning of demons.


Dean Koontz, from “Frankenstein, Book Four: Lost Souls.” (2011 Bantam Books Mass Market)






Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Quotations


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5 responses to “The Postmodern Past and the Fantasy Future

  1. jubilare

    January 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Hm… I can agree with the first paragraph, but he loses me on the second.

    • Rob

      January 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I had to ruminate on that a bit, too. I think what he’s getting at is that we are being bombarded today with all sorts of coming catastrophes: global warming, acid rain, overpopulation, asteroids, poison food, antibiotic-resistant diseases, and on and on. So people look to a far-off golden future like they see in movies or read about in sci-fi novels. Or they escape into fantasy realms (guilty as charged!) If the past isn’t trustworthy and the present is too painful, what else will people look to?

      In context, the character whose thoughts are quoted here was a retired Western novelist who was lamenting the diminishing of his chosen genre. Hope that helps your understanding.

      Have a great week.

      • jubilare

        January 14, 2013 at 5:04 pm

        I think I get that, and in some cases it is doubtless true, but I also believe that the genre of speculative fiction is widely misunderstood, and what he is saying sounds like the usual misunderstanding. Escapism does exist, but at the roots I believe good speculative fiction is as much about reality and the present as more “realistic” fiction or nonfiction. To speak in photography terms, it is playing with the depth of field in order to show what is seen in a different light/context. There’s plenty of bad speculative fiction out there, but that only makes the need to differentiate the good speculative fiction more pressing.
        Admittedly, I am a wee-bit defensive. 😉 You have a good week, too!

  2. Rob

    January 15, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Point well taken. Don’t let this put you off from trying Koontz, though. One of my favorite novels of all time is his, “One Door Away From Heaven.” Wonderful novel.

    • jubilare

      January 15, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Ah, no worries. Not agreeing with every one of a writers opinions would be a wretched excuse not to read them!


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