James Gruens’ Letter From the Future
In 1999, as the new century approached, Futurist.com sponsored a writing contest, offering a cash prize for “Letters from the future.â€ We picked several award winners, whose task it was to imagine the world 45 years in the future, and to write a letter back in time from then, addressing the people living in 1999. This letter is from someone who heard me speak and, feeling that I was overly optimistic, wrote a less positive letter warning about the environment.
August 8, 2049/1999
How odd this is to be writing this letter to people who have lived in a time thirty-five years before I began my life. I suppose that in your time this sort of thing would have been considered science fiction. Well, not for long. Interestingly enough, a woman I know (who was only six years old when you received this letter) has made the connection that allows me to send this to you from my time in your future to your time in my past. She was and I guess still is a theoretical mathematician – and a mommy. She’s my mommy. And, because I gave her the idea for the process, which I am using to send you this, I get to be the first person to use it. (Although, she did review it before I sent it). She calls her discovery “Linear Trans-Temporal Textual Transmission” I call it t-mail. The “t” stands for time. I don’t understand how it works. In fact, it may not. Since this is the first letter, I guess this is the “Great Experiment” to test the whole thing. Anyway, Mom thinks she and her whole generation got a lot of things wrong and so she wants me to tell you folks how to fix them. So, here goes:
First, you have got to stop burning fossil fuels. Nobody here can breathe outside of our home domes. Pretty much all the air and water that is left outside is yucky. And there are hardly any animals left. I can read and write pretty good because mom has taught me. I wish I could go to a school like she did when she was my age. Most everything she teaches me she has to write in the condensation on the big north window with her finger just after the sun comes up in the morning and before the heat burns it off. We don’t have paper anymore except for mom’s books. We do have tons of vid-chips though that show us what it used to be like outside. But, we can’t look at them for very long at a time because we have to save our batteries. It looked beautiful back then. But not now. The temperature outside is over 100 degrees every day and below freezing every night. The wind blows all the time, and when it rains, anything made of metal outside just seems to melt away. I spend most of my time tending our indoor food growth units. All we eat are vegetables, which is ok I guess but some of the things that you people had to eat sure looked good. By the way, my name is Paul. But, the government calls me “FOODER 235”. That’s because I’m a food maker and I’m my mom’s 235th “harvested egg” person. Me and my sister Prim, are the only ones mom kept. I don’t know where the others are.
My Mom says that you should stop making babies in dishes and start taking better care of yourselves and the animals and plants. Reuse everything, and concentrate on educating your kids about love and communication because it’s no fun living the way we have to in our “here and now”. The only electricity we have is from our solar converters so we can’t keep lights on for very long at night. When the wind blows the mist away, sometimes I can see another young person in the next dome but we have never met. I’m not sure if it is a boy or a girl. We do wave though. Whoever they are, they seem nice.
Another thing my mom says is that you should stop changing genes around. She says that was the worst thing when someone made plants that stopped making good air. She says that when they got loose it changed the “natural order”. I’m not sure what that all means but when she talks about it she always starts to cry.
Well, I have to go now. Today’s power is almost gone. Mom says this may be the only time we will ever be able to do this but if it works, maybe everything about our lives will be much better. I’m ready to push the big button to send this now. I wonder what will happen when I do? When I asked my mom how you would answer my letter, she said not to worry. If and when you did answer, I’d know. Bye,
PS: I’m not sure, but I think today is my birthday. Mom says I’m fifteen years old now.