A Few Hours in a Far-Off Age

I’m enjoying Henrietta Dugdale‘s utopian SF, A Few Hours in a Far-Off Age. Millions of years in the future, we and the disembodied narrator follow along as highly evolved humans discourse on education and the history of the Christian Blood Age. Australia sank into the sea and a new continent, Alethia, rose, though Melbourne is rising again and has this giant museum/school exhibit hall built on it with what sound like fancy study carrels next to elaborate dioramas of “torture instruments” ie corsets, low necked dresses, and high heels; or just like, men being sexist while drinking the Demon Alcohol and denying women a right to education whilst cheering on their various wars and not doing any of the housework.

The evolved teenagers (2 per family) gratifyingly listen to the smiling lectures of their evolved moms, then we weirdly follow one of them, Veritée, to her private study where she divests herself of our rational dress outer garments (loose trousers with a tunic and a short jacket, none of which are constraining in any way) to reveal her silk undergarments (similar to the top ones), does calisthenics, studies next to her giant pet tiger-dog, has some vegetarian food (delivered by the one family servant who is educated, evolved, and only works till noon after which she goes off for recreation and philosophizing, and who emerges bearing the trays of fruit and bread from a weird mirrored pillar with a spiral staircase). Veritée then has a bath (slightly creepily we see her beauteous form in the bath – better than any Blood Era statue of beauty since unconstrained by Torture Instruments and well calisthenicked.)

Some of the teenagers then fly off in an aircar (run by some sort of power plus kept safe by the Repelling Engine) to the beaches of the West Coast at 80 miles per hour. They frolic, have a picnic, and probably discuss Evolution some more. In one interlude we are treated to a description of the inventresses of the Repelling Engine (inspired by the corpses which used to rain down from aircar crashes!) They go on a test flight and then are welcomed by parades, honors, costly gifts, job offers (which they refuse unless they both get the job together) as the cheering crowds celebrate the new age of safer air travel.

Space travel is mentioned as a possible future but not really given much thought.

Henrietta does not seem to like church or the organized religion of her time, or the “myth-men” who run it, much.

I have returned to our earth. Oh, what cruel disorder here reigns! Truth crashed and persecuted! “Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks invisible, except to God alone,” flaunting in every myth temple! howling in every community! checking progress at every avenue.

Fools and rogues! You who profess so much love and reverence for your skeletons. I tell you it is all useless that you noisily rattle their offensive bones before my vision. That bright light of truth from the far-off age shines to me through your blackest screens! Go, hug your loathsome relics of a loathsome era in privacy—if you can—and say not again to my ears what you dare not utter to the Infinite in your solitude.

Ha! I see I “obey” and do the “work” that was commanded, for the light shines more brightly!

A dream? What is dreaming? Some explain most learnedly how it is caused by certain conditions of the body. May not some dreams cause those certain conditions?

Dream, or what else it has been, I see always the beautiful light bright with truth and hope. No one can extinguish it!

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