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“Vintage Season” – a story for a coronavirus outbreak

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“Three people came up the walk to the old mansion just at dawn on a perfect May morning.  Oliver Wilson in his pajamas watched them from an upper window through a haze of conflicting emotions, resentment predominant.  He didn’t want them there.  They were foreigners.”

Thus begins one of my favourite classic science fiction stories, Vintage Season, published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946.

It all feels a bit 2020.

C L Moore is one of the husband and wife team who wrote “Vintage Season” but is often credited with being the main author

Vintage Season is about how a man living in the present meets a curiously prosperous and perfect-seeming group of people who turn out to be from the future.  They play him a kind of music – a work of art which transcended all art forms – with imagery of historic disasters.

The first twist is that the time travellers have come to this time to witness such a disaster – the landing of a meteorite nearby.  The second twist (no spoilers) is that they are travelling through time to witness key moments of history – “vintage seasons” – of which the time in which Oliver Wilson is living turns out to be one.  Most of the party of time-travellers later depart to witness the coronation of Charlemagne in the year 800.

As the mysterious and beautiful Kleph says to Oliver, ‘there never was a May like it in civilized times.’

Oliver cannot understand how the time in which he is living is special – it seems to him the worst of all possible times.  But it turns out that a whole new historic era is about to begin.  Moreover, Oliver himself is a part of that future; of the music he has heard earlier; and of the reason why the travellers have returned to precisely this moment in time.  Read the story for two reasons:

(i) it’s an elegant, profound and moving tale;

(ii) the message that right now may be better – or worse – than we think is one we should all bear in mind while deciding how to live our lives – including in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic.

I’ve blogged on these themes before.  You may like:

You can read Vintage Season online here.  It is quite long – a novella – but worth it.  Have a look.

And do feel free to re-post or re-tweet this post if it cheers you up a bit.

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1 Comment

  1. Eva Marginter says:

    Ich finde es erstaunlich,dass es über die spanische Grippe, an der Millionen Menschen gestorben sind, keine literarischen Verarbeitungen vorliegen – vielleicht deshalb, weil die Realität jede science fiction “geschlagen” hat.
    Danke für den Tip


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