SF on Tech Civilization Before Ours
August 2, 2012 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm intrigued by the notion that our civilization is not the first technological civilization to arise on Earth. After all, our ancestors several tens of thousands of years ago were as clever as we are. I'm looking for SF treatments of this notion. Recommendations? Non-fiction claiming to evaluate actual evidence of such a civilization is welcome, too.
posted by justcorbly to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Evangelion.
posted by suedehead at 4:19 PM on August 2, 2012


I strongly recommend Gregory Clark's A Farewell To Alms on a whole bunch of thought-provoking levels (whether or not you end up agreeing with his thesis), one of the things I enjoyed was that I thought he gave a reasonable exploration of the rise and fall of technology levels and civilizations up to the Industrial Revolution.
posted by straw at 4:34 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


This TVTropes link might be a place to start, for science fiction.
posted by vogon_poet at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


This might not be exactly what you're looking for, but...

For Non-Fiction, check out anything by Erich von Däniken. If memory serves, he also wrote a work of fiction based on his theories. (Probably out of print by now...)

Also check out Ancient Aliens on The History Channel in the USA.
posted by Hanuman1960 at 4:37 PM on August 2, 2012


This is not quite what you're looking for, but A Canticle for Leibowitz deals with the rise of a similar situation after ours is destroyed. It's pretty good!
posted by number9dream at 4:42 PM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fingerprints of the Gods may be just what you're looking for.
posted by Specklet at 4:47 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chariots of the gods.

That goofy book always gets me smiling.
posted by Packed Lunch at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2012


I'm only noting this because it's not listed on tvtropes: Toolmaker Koan by John McLoughlin. It's dated today (Soviet proxies at war with the West...in space), but I sure loved it in 1989.
posted by pullayup at 4:53 PM on August 2, 2012


"The Orion Mystery" is 'nonfiction' but I'd take it with a good dose of skepticism, so this meets your criteria. The authors had some interesting points nevertheless.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 5:01 PM on August 2, 2012


Teenage Cave Man
(because it was my first exposure to the concept).
posted by Rash at 5:23 PM on August 2, 2012


There isn't any serious work claiming prior technolgical society here. It would have been noticed already.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:54 PM on August 2, 2012


Well, I don't know if it would have been noticed. That implies we know all there is to know.

I read Chariots of the Gods years ago. It's impossible to take it and others in that genre seriously because they argue from extrapolation, not evidence.

But, I'm primarily looking for good SF treatments.

Even BSG could be considered here, although it is a treatment of a precursor civilization from the point of view of the civilization.
posted by justcorbly at 6:08 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


West of Eden. Awesome book.
posted by brownrd at 6:20 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's the series "The Magic Goes Away" by Larry Niven. Yeah, it's about magic, but Niven is an SF writer and he gives magic an SF slant.

He gets past the "where are the artifacts?" question by placing most of the series on the lost island of Atlantis, which is eventually destroyed when the magic does go away.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:22 PM on August 2, 2012


This is a pretty common trope in Afrofuturist novels: Pauline Hopkins's Of One Blood may be the first. (It's also part of Nation of Islam cosmology.)

You might poke around TV Tropes.

Advanced Ancient Acropolis
Precursors
Lost Superweapon
Lost Technology
posted by gerryblog at 6:25 PM on August 2, 2012


Hp lovecraft, particularly the Mountains of Madness.
posted by empath at 6:57 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first part of Doc Smith's _Triplanetary_
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:20 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stargate the movie.
posted by mmascolino at 7:27 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not really Earth, but Star Wars is set "A long time ago..."
posted by unixrat at 7:55 PM on August 2, 2012


Also by Niven, "The Green Marauder."
posted by Chrysostom at 8:19 PM on August 2, 2012


After all, our ancestors several tens of thousands of years ago were as clever as we are.

Were they?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:40 PM on August 2, 2012


Michael Flynn's Eifelheim has aliens getting stuck in medieval Germany...
posted by incountrysleep at 9:56 PM on August 2, 2012


Ben Bova's sci-fi novel "As on a Darkling Plain" fits this to a T.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:08 AM on August 3, 2012


James P. Hogan did a trilogy about this:

Inherit the Stars
The Gentle GIants of Ganymede
Giants' Star
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:18 AM on August 3, 2012


Also Ken MacLeod's _Cosmonaut Keep_ / _Engine City_ / _Dark Light_ series, though the civilization is REALLY old and hardly any of the series is set on Earth.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:59 AM on August 3, 2012


David Brin's Uplift trilogy is this on a galactic scale.

While prior human technological civilization does seem far fetched, once you get off into geologic time there is no way to say for sure. How would you know if there was a species that lived in villages and made stone tools 65 million years ago?
posted by BeeDo at 11:00 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


2001
posted by banshee at 11:01 AM on August 3, 2012


Check out "The Steerswoman's Road" and sequels by Rosemary Kirsten.
Loved those books - I wish she would write another one...
posted by Arthur Dent at 11:56 AM on August 3, 2012


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