The Long Tomorrow

One of the limitations in the conception of cities in mainstream American science fiction was the lack of understanding that cities are like compost heaps, just layers and layers of stuff from the past, present, and future, all totally adjacent. This radical concept was introduced by Moebius in his comic book “Metal Hurlant: The Long Tomorrow” in 1975, which preceded the popular sci-fi movies “Empire Strikes Back,” “Blade Runner,” and the works of William Gibson. Moebius’ work, which was written by Dan O’Bannon while he was working with Jodorowsky on DUNE, was able to depict the intricacies of urban archaeology in every frame, something that was not obvious in mainstream American science fiction at the time.

While this concept of cities as compost heaps may seem commonplace in Europe or Asia, it was a revolutionary idea in American science fiction, where the city in the future was always depicted as brand new. It is fair to say that the way the future looks in sci-fi is heavily influenced by Metal Hurlant and its groundbreaking approach to depicting cities.

This limitation in the conception of cities in American science fiction is an example of how mediums, in this case, sci-fi, define the limits by which we can think. The medium creates an environment that makes certain things possible and certain other things impossible. In the case of sci-fi, the genre allowed for the depiction of fantastical worlds and futuristic technologies, but it was limited by the prevailing ideas and concepts of the time.

This is not unique to sci-fi, as all mediums have their limitations. For example, in literature, the medium of the novel has certain limitations that make it difficult to convey certain types of information, such as visual or auditory experiences, in the same way that film or music can. Similarly, in art, the medium of painting may be limited in its ability to depict movement or sound.

However, these limitations do not necessarily detract from the value of the medium. In fact, it is often these limitations that force artists and creators to innovate and find new ways to express their ideas. It is the medium itself that provides the constraints that inspire creativity and new ways of thinking.

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