FUTURE PAST and Other Premonitions (Edouard d'ARAILLE et alia)
A new anthology of stories investigating the subject of "Premonition" in many different senses, future visions and the paradox of Time itself. - From H.G. Wells to Stefan Zeromski, Daniel Defoe to Guy de Maupassant, the vistas are simply boundless!
"Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future, and time future contained in time past." T.S.Eliot
From the 'Editor's Note': In 'Future Past', the title story, Edouard d'Araille approaches the topic of age and youth from the point-of-view of an old man who has not accomplished all that he wanted to, wishing to live the days of 'youth' again. Next is a story by Lafcadio Hearn called "The Mirror Maiden", in which the premonitions of a spirit being enables a man to avoid disaster - a Japanese myth come to life. In the third story, "Sredni Vashtar" by Saki, we enter the world of a ten-year old who a doctor predicts will only live 5 more years, his best friend in the world a ferret. H.G. Wells then transports us into the mind of a man who will go "Under the Knife", and who is fearful he will die during the operation - yet what things he will see! In the fifth story of the collection, Guy de Maupassant takes us into a place of the future where there is an Institute for the Suicidal. Bizarre and unexpected, "The Putter- to-Sleep" is one of his lesser-known works. Next, though the "future" he experiences on awaking is far more than a mere 'premonition', Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" was an undiscardable choice. In the seventh selection, a great surprise for all those who thought that they knew E.M. Forster, for here is a novella of true science fiction, showing us a vision of the future just as fascinating as those of Aldous Huxley and Arthur C. Clarke, in his story "The Machine Stops". In the following tale, "Three at Table", by the supreme W.W. Jacobs, we join a lost traveller who is welcomed in for dinner by a strange family - yet why do they eat in such darkness, their son's head turned away? - "Forebodings" by Stefan Zeromski, the penultimate story in the collection, is hard to describe, actually being a presentation of two 'Pre-visions' - one in a railway station, the other in a hospital. Finally, closing the anthology, is "The True Relation of the Apparition of one Mrs. Veal" by Daniel Defoe, an account, in fact, of the meeting with a person who was already deceased!
An Extract: (from 'THE MACHINE STOPS' by E.M. Forster) - "PART ONE: The Air-ship
IMAGINE, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. It is lighted neither by window nor by lamp, yet it is filled with a soft radiance. There are no apertures for ventilation, yet the air is fresh. There are no musical instruments, and yet, at the moment that my meditation opens, this room is throbbing with melodious sounds. An arm-chair is in the centre, by its side a reading desk - that is all the furniture. And in the arm-chair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh - a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus. It is to her that the little room belongs.
An electric bell rang.
The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.
"I suppose I must see who it is," she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery, and it rolled her to the other side of the room, where the bell still rang importunately.
"Who is it?" she called. Her voice was irritable, for she had been interrupted often since the music began. She knew several thousand people; in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously.
But when she listened into the receiver, her white face wrinkled into smiles, and she said:
"Very well. Let us talk, I will isolate myself. I do not expect anything important will happen for the next five minutes - for I can give you fully five minutes, Kuno. Then I must deliver my lecture on 'Music during the Australian Period'."
- An extraordinary anthology of 'Tales of the Unexpected' from the 17th Century to Now!