Talk:1491: Stories of the Past and Future

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 15:07, 25 February 2015 by (talk)
Jump to: navigation, search will take you to the large version, which the comic currently doesn't have a link to. I expect that will be fixed shortly. 05:30, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I just realized he has a text link for it in the top banner. I'd delete my comment, but that's rude on a wiki. Whatever. 05:35, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

The bottom diagonal seems to be mislabelled? Shouldn't it be "Stories written X years and set X years ago" instead of "set 2X years ago"? -- 05:38, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

It is correct, if you see both relative from now. The middle line is written X years ago and set X years ago and thus contemporary. Sebastian -- 06:46, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I'm not sure where to open bug tickets, but Lest Darkness Fall actually takes place ~1500 years ago, not ~500. 06:35, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I'll second that -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:36, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Kind of reminds of a Minkowski diagram. Sebastian -- 06:50, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

More and more science fiction works wander into the category obsolete science fiction, and more and more historical works are not recognisable as such by the average viewer as the movies have been filmed such a long time ago anyway. Sebastian -- 06:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

There seems to be a mistake with the large diagonal line. It says "Stories written X years ago and set 2X years ago." It should say, "... and set X years ago." Am I missing something here? Effy (talk) 09:35, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Nevermind, I see now that the y-axis is date relative to publication, not absolute dates relative to today. My bad. Effy (talk) 09:37, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I may have missed it, but can't see Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1863, about 1960, but only published in 1994. Which would have been an interesting addition. 10:13, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

In fact, I'm thinking it could have been represented as a (dotted?) diagonal arrowed line between "1960 in 1863"/future-trending and "1960 in 1994"/past-trending points. But never mind. 10:38, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

... this is why experienced sci-fi writers don't date their stories. On the other hand, many sci-fi became obviously obsolete even without the date. -- Hkmaly (talk) 11:00, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I have experience with this. Back in 1995 I advised a prospective author-friend (prospective author; already and still a friend, surprisingly) on the latest computing matters to help a plot device in a "five minutes into the future" story. Even two years later, it sounded so dated and... naff. ('Luckily', it didn't sell too well anyway (bad choice of publishers), so my failure-as-futurologist - uncredited as it also fortunately was - wasn't so wildly known.) 13:04, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I've been trying and trying to figure out what the heck his point might be, as IMO there usually seems to be some point he's trying to make or way he's trying to be clever, beyond the interesting nature of the observation - and I think I might have seen one (though there is probably something else) - anyone notice that the area under the "Stories set in 2015" line is awfully bare? at least compared to the areas on either side of the 'x / 2x' line. that could simply be his particular selection of works(?) anyone have some ideas of things that might deserve to go in there that were not included? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:45, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I think the point here is that there are a lot of books one hasn't read yet. I, for one, sought out Memoirs of the Twentieth Century and The Pillow Book after reading this strip. --Koveras (talk) 13:30, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

As for writing a transcript or explanation, concerning order, I would think it would make some sense to flatten it on one axis (probably the y-axis, starting from Star Wars?) or if it is practical enough, the best might be some sort of "radial"(?) axis (is that a thing?), where the axis would be anchored at "this chart", and swing like a radar beam around from the bottom (Downton Abbey, Mad Men, and Star Wars, up through the 'x / 2x' line, through the 'contemporary' line and then the 'set in 2015' line, to finish with '3001', possibly making a small attempt to keep related works (like Star Wars) together in the listing. Any comments? -- Brettpeirce (talk) 12:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Whatever the fixation, I started work on something, but other people will get there before me. So here's my ideas. Five columns: "Story (and format description/author?)", "First Published/Premiered", "Date offset(s)", "Featured date(s)" and "Notes", with sorting on each potentially numerical one (although ranges/freetext/vagueness may play havoc with such sorting, by past experience).
I already have a complete list of listed titles (in case anyone needs it), though maybe not error-free and not yet been ordered other than by "input order".
Memoirs of the Twentieth Century
Golf in the Year 2000
Looking Backward
Enoch Soames
The Time Machine
A Week in the Wales of the Future
The Jetsons
Star Trek !TOS!
2001: A Space Odyssey
Space: 1999
2010: Odyssey Two
Star Trek: The Next Generation
2061: Odyssey Three
Zero Wing
3001: The Final Odyssey
Back to the Future Part II
Transformers (TV Series)
Terminator 2 (1995 Portion)
The Pillow Book
History of the Peloponnesian War
Moby Dick
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Iliad
Book of Genesis
Water Margin
King John
Henry IV
Richard III
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King Lear
A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Lest Darkness Fall
The Ten Commandments
The Flintstones
2001: A Space Odyssey (prologue)
Star Wars (IV - VI)
Star Wars (I - III)
Raptor Red
Star Wars (VII - IX)
Ice Age
10,000 BC
Year One
The Prince of Egypt
Downton Abbey
Pearl Harbour
Saving Private Ryan
Chariots of Fire
Blazing Saddles
Back to the Future Part III
Treasure Island
The Last of the Mohicans
A Tale of Two Cities
Gone With The Wind
Rip Can Winkel [sic]
Les Misera'bles
Lawrence of Arabia
The Music Man
Annie (Play)
Annie (Movie)
Schindler's List
Mad Men
Bonnie and Clyde
The Sandlot
Back to the Future
Catch-22 (Movie)
The Great Escape
Catch-22 (Book)
Happy Days
The Wonder Years
Dirty Dancing
The Right Stuff
Apollo 13
That '70s Show
The Wolf of Wall Street
Freaks and Geeks
I Love the '80s
The Bridge on the River Kwai
American Graffiti
Apocalypse Now
The Big Lebowski
United 93
I Love the '90s
Hotel Rwanda
I Love the 2000s
(Do cut that out of this Talk Page when no longer necessary!)
What I've so far put together (but not yet checked my link formats or WikiTabled) is...
[[wikipedia:Memoirs of the Twentieth Century|]], book written by Samuel Madden	1733	+264	1997-8
[[wikipedia:Golf in the Year 2000|]], novel written by J. McCullough	1892	+108	2000
[[wikipedia:Looking Backward|]], novel written by Edward Bellamy	1888	+112	2000
[[wikipedia:Enoch Soames|]], short story by Max Beerbohm	1916	(check!)	1897
[[wikipedia:The Time Machine|]], novel written by H.G. Wells	1895	(range!)	802,701 CE and +30 million years
[[wikipedia:United 93 (film)|]], film directed by Paul Greengrass	2006	-5	2001	
[[wikipedia:I Love the '90s (U.S. TV series)|]], TV miniseries on VH1	2004	-14..-5	1990-9	A programme by the same name was broadcast by the BBC in 2001
[[wikipedia:Hotel Rwanda|]], film directed by Terry George	2004	-10	1994	
[[wikipedia:I Love the 2000s|]], TV miniseries on VH1	2014	-14..-5	2000-2009	
...but I'm probably duplicating someone else's efforts so by the time I get back to it you'll have a complete and better version online. FYI if you're determined to build on this while I'm absent, however. 14:22, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

This appears to be a log-log graph, but with abrupt changes in scale along one axis yielding cusps in the "still possible / obsolete" line. Is there a name for that? -- 14:29, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I created a basic table using's data - bits corrected. Jarod997 (talk) 14:46, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

I'm in the process of writing a transcript myself. Mine is not formatted as a table; I am under the impression that this is the preferred approach to transcripts on this site. However, the existing table would be perfect in another section, where we can give more detail than a true transcript can/should provide (e.g. "this is a book written by X, here's the wikilink", "this is an error, it should be X", etc.) -- Peregrine (talk) 14:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Not sure of the protocol here, but the trivia section currently states that "Rip Van Winkel" is a misspelling of "Rip Van Winkle." The use of Winkel in the comic can be correct. ( The transcription also lists "Rip Can Winkel [sic]" but the comic actually uses "Rip Van Winkel."