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Friday, August 7, 2009

Bumbling Future Archeologists

Here is an interesting article by Hugo-nominated Frank Westfahl at the Locus Online site about bumbling archeologists of the future in science fiction. Most of the stories about future archeologists, according to Westfahl, are humor pieces in which the archeologists misinterpret what they find. Interestingly, one of the first such stories is by Edgar Allan Poe. Westfahl reckoned Poe ended that short story abruptly because, as a master storyteller, he knew it was going nowhere. There were only about four long works about future archeology, all of them about gross misinterpretation of the past, and none of them very good. Westfahl examines each of them. Here is a quote from one of the reviews:

As one example of their faulty conclusions, the archaeologists assert that "The Weans were probably not at all a friendly or hospitable people" based solely on two pieces of evidence. First is New York City's Statue of Liberty, whose "one arm upraised" is interpreted as a sign of "a threatening attitude." Second is the discovery of an "inscription" reading "the dodgers were shut out."

For the rest of the article, go here.

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