How the Future Got Better by Eric Schaller


Source: Own Collection
Format: Hardback
Rating:  3 Stars
Reviewer: Laurel

I read this as part of The Time Traveller’s Almanac, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

This story is about a family who settles down in front of their TV to see what the FoTax does: it’s set five minutes fast.

A TV set that can see five minutes into the future is a recipe for self-fulfilling prophecies, if you ask me. Quite frankly, I just don’t see the point of sitting around watching what you’re going to be doing in five mins time.

Nevertheless, this story raised some retrospective questions. Probably most importantly, exactly what is the role of the FoTax? It allows people to see themselves in five minutes time, but there are some…missing elements?

Firstly, when the mother refuses to sit down, her image on the FoTax channel fades… so would she REALLY cease to exist if she didn’t sit down? And how would that happen – would she fade away to nothing, or crash down dead on the floor. Secondly, I don’t recall seeing any movement on the FoTax channel. People would just be doing something ‘new’, like sitting down, holding a beer can… so the FoTax is not showing an actual sequence of events, but perhaps just planting ideas? And yet there appears to be retribution if the idea is not followed… so idea, or coercion to a certain behaviour? Finally, what would happen if the FoTax could be turned off? Can it, in fact, be turned off?

Heh. All the questions it’s making me ask – which may be the point of the story, really…


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