Far future in science fiction and popular culture

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The far future, here defined as the time beyond the 10th millennium, has been used as a setting in many works of fiction or popular scientific speculation.

Doctor Who[edit]

The British science fiction series Doctor Who has featured many events beyond the 10th millennium AD:

  • 12,005 AD: According to the episode End of the World, a New Roman Empire has been established on Earth by this year.
  • 17,100 AD: The Doctor and Amy Pond visit the Delirium Archive, and receive a message from River Song (The Time of Angels)
  • 37,166 AD: Planet of Evil: a geological survey is almost annihilated by anti-matter creatures.
  • 200,000 AD: Events of The Long Game. The Mighty Jagrafess is revealed to have usurped the Fourth Great and Bountiful Human Empire.
  • 200,100 AD: Events of Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways. Earth culture is dominated by lethal game shows and reality television transmitted from a giant space station. The Jagafress is revealed to have been a pawn of the Daleks, who attempt an invasion of Earth after the Dalek Emperor recreates the race following the events of the Last Great Time War.
  • 500,000 AD: Humanity on Earth have evolved into Haemovores. The last creature alive in the polluted world is Ingiger, the Ancient One, who was brought to the 10th century by the power of Fenric.
  • 2,000,000 AD: The Mysterious Planet: Earth is devastated after being moved by the Time Lords and renamed Ravalox. At some unknown point thereafter, Earth is returned to its original position.
  • 4,000,000 AD: The Usurians exploit and ruthlessly tax humans on Pluto
  • 10,000,000 AD: In The Ark, a group of humans and Monoids make a 700-year star voyage from Earth, which is about to crash into the Sun.
  • 5,000,000,000 AD: The End of the World. The date is given by the locals as 5.5/Apple/26 the episode establishes the destruction of the original planet Earth at this time, caused by the expansion of its sun..
  • 5,000,000,023 AD: In the episode New Earth, Humans are shown to have moved to a new planet and called it New Earth in the galaxy M87.
  • 5,000,000,053 AD: Events of Gridlock. Inhabitants of New New York released from quarantine. The Face of Boe (revealed in Last of the Time Lords to possibly be a future version of Jack Harkness), one of the oldest creatures in the universe, apparently dies.
  • 100,000,000,000,000 AD: Utopia: the last remnants of humanity (who have mostly evolved back into today's familiar form) seek out a legendary utopia in this year, aided by a Time Lord with suppressed memories,revealed to be the Master

Dune[edit]

Frank Herbert's Dune series spans thousands of years of distant future history in a galactic, and eventually multigalactic, setting, describing an interstellar feudal system enabled by a prescience-imbuing drug known as the Spice.[1]

Foundation series[edit]

Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, comprising the union of his Robot novels, Galactic Empire novels and Foundation novels, describes a future history of humanity from 1996 to tens of thousands of years from now.[2] The 11th millennium occurs after the end of the Robot stories.

  • 11,300 AD: Events of The Stars, Like Dust. The planet Rhodia rebels against a local tyranny and rediscovers the US Constitution, leading to a brief experiment with democracy
  • 12,000 AD: Events of The Currents of Space. Trantor expands its territory. Knowledge that Earth is the human birthworld is slowly fading.
  • 12,500 AD (1 GE): the Galactic Empire is founded with Trantor as its capital.
  • 13,327 AD: Events of Pebble in the Sky. A shunned Earth rediscovers its heritage.
  • 24,520: AD: Events of Prelude to Foundation. Hari Seldon begins his attempts to make psychohistory practical in order to stave off the imminent collapse of the Empire.
  • 24,528–569 AD: Events of Forward the Foundation. Hari Seldon, his family gradually dying around him, begins to formulate the Seldon Plan and found the Foundation and Second Foundation.
  • 24,567 AD (12,067 GE; 1 FE): Hari Seldon put on trial. Foundation exiled to Terminus
  • 24,569–762 AD: Events of Foundation. Anacreon declares independence. The Foundation's homeworld of Terminus is cut off from the Empire. Over time, it begins to exert religious and then economic influence over its surrounding region.
  • 24,762–867 AD: Events of Foundation and Empire. Trantor is sacked. The Foundation is attacked first by the remnant Empire and then by the Mule, a powerful psychic, who succeeds in conquering it, overthrowing the remains of the Empire and establishing his own.
  • 24,867–943 AD: Events of Second Foundation. The Second Foundation defeats the Mule and then eludes the First Foundation's attempt to conquer it.
  • 25,065 AD: Events of Foundation's Edge. Golan Trevize attempts to locate the legendary Earth, only to discover Gaia, a previously unknown power in the galaxy, who offer an alternative to the Seldon Plan or a new Empire: Galaxia, a galaxy in which all life and nonlife is unified in a single intelligence.
  • 25,066 AD: Events of Foundation and Earth. Golan Trevize locates Earth, now radioactive and uninhabitable, but ultimately locates Daneel Olivaw, a 20,000-year-old robot who has been secretly guiding humanity's evolution from a base on the Moon.
  • 12,700,000-15,000,000 AD: Humanity has completely died out according to an alternate future described in The End of Eternity. This future was supposedly avoided by ensuring that humanity gained access to interstellar travel. The book's connection to the Foundation series is contested, but several links have been established.

The Future is Wild[edit]

The Future is Wild was a speculative documentary hypothetising how life could evolve over the course of millions of years:

  • 5,000,000: the world is in an ice age. The Mediterranean Sea will be a vast salt plain and the Amazon rainforest will be a grassland. Creatures of this land include huge killer birds, thin-legged pigs, sticky-frilled lizards and birds that act like whales. Humans, by this time, have either gone extinct or have left the planet.
  • 100,000,000: in 100,000,000 years' time, the world will be very hot due to excess volcanic activity. Antarctica will be a lush rainforest. Creatures of this world include dinosaur-sized tortoises, amphibious octopuses, four-winged birds and eusocial spiders. At this time, there is also only one species of mammal left, which is "farmed" by the spiders.
  • 200,000,000: in 200 million years' time the world will contain one global ocean and one continent, like Pangaea. Approximately 100 million years before this time, there was a mass extinction and now most of the world's land is desert, with a couple of rainforests around the edge. Creatures of this world include air-breathing flying fish, giant plankton, various huge worms, highly specialized insects and intelligent, arboreal land-squid. There are no mammals, no birds, no reptiles, no amphibians, only one species of flowering plants and only sharks left to represent aquatic fish. Other creatures have moved in to fill these niches.

Last and First Men and Star Maker[edit]

Olaf Stapledon's novels Last and First Men and Star Maker are speculations on the evolution of intelligence in the universe. Last and First Men explores the future evolution of intelligence on Earth, while Star Maker explores the technological and social changes undergone by various alien species.

Last and First Men[edit]

  • 100,000 AD: Rise and fall of the Patagonians; the First Men enter in eclipse.
  • After 100,000 AD: Rise of the Second Men; the Martian Wars and the Ruin Of Two Worlds.
  • 10,000,000 AD: The Moon crashes into Earth, the Fifth Men migrate to Venus.
  • 1,000,000,000 AD: The Sun begins to expand into a Red Giant, migration of the Ninth Men to Neptune.
  • 2,000,000,000 AD: End of Man (the Eighteenth Men).
  • 5,000,000,000,000 AD: The Sun dies.

Star Maker[edit]

  • 20,000,000,000 AD: The War of Worlds occurs.
  • 30,000,000,000 AD: The Second Galactic Utopia occurs.
  • 40,000,000,000 AD: The First Colonization of Dead Stars occurs.
  • 50,000,000,000 AD: The Supreme Moment of the Cosmos occurs.

The Last Question[edit]

Isaac Asimov's short story The Last Question charts the future evolution of Man as subsequent generations ask ever-more complex computers the same question: "Can entropy be reversed?" The story begins in 2061, when the supercomputer Multivac is asked the question and responds: "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER". The story then jumps forward to an unspecified time at least a thousand years later, in which a spaceship-borne computer is asked the same question, and gives the same answer.

  • ca. 22,000: Humans, now immortal, are filling up the Milky Way galaxy and are considering expanding beyond it. The Galactic AC is asked the question and replies: "THERE IS INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER"
  • ca. 10,000,000,000: Mankind now sleeps in hibernation as minds travel the universe. The hyperspatial computer the Universal AC is asked the question and replies, "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."
  • ca. 100,000,000,000: Man, now a single cosmic intelligence, realizes that the stars are winding down. The Cosmic AC is asked the question and responds: "THERE IS AS YET INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR A MEANINGFUL ANSWER."
  • ca. 10,000,000,000,000: Man fuses with the AC and entropy destroys the universe. Some unspecified amount of time later, the AC, from its home in hyperspace, formulates its answer to the question and demonstrates it with the exclamation "Let there be light!"

The Late Philip J. Fry[edit]

The Futurama episode The Late Philip J. Fry concerns a journey into the far future:

  • 10,000 AD: Post-apocalyptic future in which first the humans, then the apes, then the birds, then the cows and then the slugs each created and destroyed their respective civilisations.
  • 105,105 AD: Snowball Earth in which Eskimos ride walruses
  • 252,525 AD: Medieval world in which knights ride ostriches.
  • 351,120 AD: Ocean planet in which giant carnivorous shrimp use merman-like lures to catch prey
  • 1,000,000.5 AD: Another medieval world in which mankind has been enslaved by giraffes.
  • 5,000,000 AD: Humanity has diverged into two separate species, hyper-advanced elfin humanoids and the brutish Dumlocks.
  • 5,000,005 AD: Time by which the Dumlocks have destroyed the elfin humanoids' civilisation.
  • 10,000,000 AD: Terminator-esque future in which humanity has been enslaved by killer machines.
  • 50,000,000 AD: Advanced civilisation composed primarily of scantily clad buxom women.
  • 1,000,000,000 AD: All life is extinct on Earth.
  • 1050 AD: the Universe ends. Some point later, a second universe begins.

Star Trek[edit]

The science fiction franchise Star Trek has made several allusions to far future events:

The Time Machine[edit]

H. G. Wells's novel The Time Machine concerns an anonymous Time Traveller who embarks on a journey to Earth's far future:

  • 802,701: Most events in the novel occur in this year. The Time Traveller discovers a land in which the idyllic humanoid Eloi have been reduced the level of cattle for the cannibalistic Morlocks, who reside underground and tend their "flock" above with vast machines
  • >30,000,000: The Time Traveller arrives at a twilit, desolate beach on a Moonless Earth under a cold red Sun. The only inhabitants he sees are large, mothlike creatures and giant, threatening crabs.
  • c. 30,000,000: The beach is now flecked with ice and snow; the only observed life is a football-sized tentacled creature

Warhammer 40,000[edit]

The Games Workshop-created wargaming franchise Warhammer 40,000 is, as its title suggests, set around the 40th millennium of its fictional universe.[3]

  • >14,000 AD: Age of Terra. Mankind is confined to the Solar System. The future Emperor of Mankind secretly guides humanity's evolution.
  • 14,000-25,000 AD: Dark Age of Technology. Mankind develops warp travel and reaches out to other star systems, in the process attaining its highest level of technical sophistication.
  • 25,000-30,000 AD: Age of Strife. The rise of psykers and the influence of the Chaos Gods sends the human race into a period of anarchy. Persistent warp storms cut off many human worlds from the rest of the galaxy.
  • Early 30th millennium AD: The Fall of the Eldar occurs. Slaanesh, a "God of Chaos" is born. The event calms the warp storms, allowing humanity to advance across the galaxy again.[3]
  • 30,000 AD: Age of the Imperium begins. Emperor of Mankind, after unifying shattered Terra, launches Great Crusade to reclaim the human planets under his rule and locate the 20 Primarchs scattered across the galaxy by the forces of Chaos.
  • c. 30,004 AD: The Horus Heresy begins.[4] The Emperor, after defeating Horus, is placed near death on the Golden Throne.
  • c. 40000–41000 AD: real time of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, it is the temporal setting for most of the related backstories, novels, video games and other spin-offs released as of January 2013.

Xeelee Sequence[edit]

Stephen Baxter's Xeelee Sequence, a collection of novels and short stories describing Mankind's war with a superintelligent race called the Xeelee, spans a time period from the Big Bang to billions of years in the future.[5]

Other fiction[edit]

Literature[edit]

Film and television[edit]

  • 12,004–12,006 : The events of Eureka Seven.
  • 40,000: The film Barbarella takes place in this year
  • ca. 50,000: In the Stargate Atlantis episode The Last Man, by this time Lantea's sun has turned into a Red Giant, rendering the planet uninhabitable.
  • 207̃,012 (pronounced twenty-sñeventy-twelve) : In the Gravity Falls episode The Time Traveler's Pig, year Blendin Blandin (a time traveler) from
  • ca. 1,000,000: In the Babylon 5 universe, approximately one million years after the founding of the Interstellar Alliance (2262 AD), humans evolve into beings of energy. They leave Earth for the old Vorlon homeworld—and ultimately destroy the solar system to keep any remaining technology out of the hands of younger races.
  • ~2,000,000: The Bakshi film Wizards is set in this year.
  • ~3,002,100: most of the events of the scifi sitcom Red Dwarf occur around this time (the premise of the show is set "3,000,000 years into the future" after protagonist David Lister, who is from the 22nd century, is put into suspended animation for that many years).

Games[edit]

  • 17,276–17,278: The events of the game Xenogears begin.[6]
  • 23,341: The current date in the MMORPG Eve Online.[7]
  • 189,346: Current date in the Noctis universe.
  • 281,474,976,712,644: Setting of the upcoming game 0x10c

Comics[edit]

Other[edit]

  • 12,570: Date of the Orion's Arm world building project.

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ http://brianpherbert.com/timeline.html
  2. ^ http://www.sikander.org/foundation.php
  3. ^ a b "Warhammer 40k Timeline". Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  4. ^ Troke, Adam; Vetock, Jeremy; Ward, Mat (2012). Warhammer 40,000 (hardcover) (print). Warhammer 40,000 Rulebooks. Cover art by Alex Boyd; illustrations & reproductions by Games Workshop staff artists & designers; storytext by Alan Merret (6th ed.). Nottingham, UK: Games Workshop. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-90796-479-4. "C. 800.M30[:] The Great Crusade" ; Abnett, Dan (2006). Horus rising: the seeds of heresy are sown (mass market paperback) (print). Horus Heresy Novel Series 1. Cover art & illustration by Neil Roberts (1st UK ed.). Nottingham, UK: Black Library. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-84416-294-9. "It had been,... the two hundred and third year of the Great Crusade." 
  5. ^ http://www.stephen-baxter.com/articles.html#xeelee
  6. ^ The disparity in the Xenogears years is due to the vagueness of the calendar conversions used in the game. The accompanying literature, Xenogears Perfect Works (PW), states that in AD 2510 the calendar system restarted and was labeled TC, for Transcend Christ. Again in year 4767 TC, the calendar system restarts and is called the New Era (the reference point being the year the Eldridge crashed onto the unnamed planet). PW continues on, stating the events of Xenogears begin in the year 9999 of the New Era. Whether year 0 is counted in any of the calendar systems is up for debate therefore leading to the disparity in the beginning of the events of the game.
  7. ^ EVE Online Gallentean Timeline