THE kind of future which is here imagined, should not, I think, seem wholly fantastic, or at any rate
not so fantastic as to be without significance, to modern western individuals who are familiar with
the outlines of contemporary thought. Had I chosen matter in which there was nothing whatever of
the fantastic, its very plausibility would have rendered it unplausible.
For one thing at least is almost certain about the future, namely, that very much of it will be such as we should call incredible.
ln one important respect, indeed, I may perhaps seem to have strayed into barren
I have supposed an inhabitant of the remote future to be communicating with us of
I have pretended that he has the power of partially controlling the operations of minds now
living, and that this book is the product of such influence.
Yet even this fiction is perhaps not wholly excluded by our thought. I might, of course, easily have omitted it without more than superficial alteration of the theme.
But its introduction was more than a convenience. Only by some such
radical and bewildering device could I embody the possibility that there may be more in time's
nature than is revealed to us. Indeed, only by some such trick could I do justice to the conviction
that our whole present mentality is but a confused and halting first experiment.
If ever this book should happen to be discovered by some future individual, for instance by a
member of the next generation sorting out the rubbish of his predecessors, it will certainly raise a
smile; for very much is bound to happen of which no hint is yet discoverable. And indeed even in
our generation circumstances may well change so unexpectedly and so radically that this book may
very soon look ridiculous. But no matter. We of today must conceive our relation to the rest of the
universe as best we can; and even if our images must seem fantastic to future men, they may none
the less serve their purpose today.
Some readers, taking my story to be an attempt at prophecy, may deem it unwarrantably pessimistic.
But it is not prophecy; it is myth, or an essay in myth. We all desire the future to turn out more
happily than I have figured it. In particular we desire our present civilization to advance steadily
toward some kind of Utopia. The thought that it may decay and collapse, and that all its spiritual
treasure may be lost irrevocably, is repugnant to us. Yet this must be faced as at least a possibility.