Newspaper from the future
A newspaper from the future is a plot device encountered in various science fiction/fantasy stories. An early example of this device can be found in the H.G. Wells 1932 short story, "The Queer Story of Brownlow's Newspaper," which tells the tale of a man who receives such a paper from 40 years in the future. The 1944 film It Happened Tomorrow also employs this device, with the protagonist receiving the next days' newspaper from an elderly colleague (who is possibly a ghost). The television series Early Edition also revolved around a character who daily received the next day's newspaper, and sought to change some event therein forecast to happen. Back to the Future Part II used a similar device, having the antagonist prosper after receiving a booklet of sports trivia from the future based upon which he could place bets. In the television series Goodnight Sweetheart a man who is able to travel at will between his own time (the 1990s) and World War II-era places successful wagers on sporting events of the 1940s by consulting the next day's paper, which exists in his own era (the 1990s) as an antique.
The newspaper from the future, like any communication from the future, raises questions about time travel and the ability of humans to control their destiny. If the recipient is allowed to presume that the future is malleable, and if the future forecast affects them in some way, then this device serves as a convenient explanation of their motivations. In It Happened Tomorrow, the events that are described in the newspaper do come to pass, and the protagonist's efforts to avoid those events set up circumstances which instead cause them to come about. By contrast, in Early Edition, the protagonist is able to successfully prevent catastrophes predicted in the newspaper (although, if the protagonist does nothing, these catastrophes do come about).
Where such a device is used, the source of the future news may not be explained, leaving it open to the reader/watcher to imagine that it might be technology, magic, an act of a god etc. In the H.G. Wells story, the author writes of the newspaper that "apparently it had been delivered not by the postman, but by some other hand". As in It Happened Tomorrow and Early Edition, no explanation is offered for the source of the future news.
- John Buchan's novel The Gap in the Curtain is similarly premised on a group of people being enabled to see, for a moment, an item in the Times newspaper from one year in the future.
- During the Swedish general election, 2006, Folkpartiet liberalerna used election posters which looked like news items, called Framtidens nyheter ("News of the future"), featuring things that Folkpartiet liberalerna wanted to do if they came to power.