‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’
This month: The World to End Last Month
A close look at the headline just above reveals a puzzling confusion of tenses. The phrase “world to end” carries a distinctly predictive quality, whereas “last month” shows a certain degree of retrospectiveness. It is reasonable to ask what is going on here.
Some of the confusion stems from the fact that I write these columns far ahead of the cover dates of the issues in which they appear. It takes time to set a magazine in type, print, and bind it, and send it out. So, although this piece is intended for the issue to be dated June 2015, I’m actually writing it in September 2014.
The “last month” part of the title refers to a recent prediction that the world is going to end in April 2015. If you’re reading this in May 2015, you can feel confident that the world didn’t end as predicted last month. (If things went otherwise, it’s likely that you won’t be seeing this at all.) Since I’m writing now about what is for me still a future event that will lie in the past by the time you read this, you can readily understand that a certain awkwardness of tense will inevitably be involved . . .
You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.