I remember reading a paperback book in about 8th grade called “Lure of the Basilisk” by Lawrence Watt-Evans. If you go look that title up on Amazon you’ll find that it’s still available and (this came as a surprise to me) there are three other books in the series.
What always stuck in my mind about that book was a passage where the main character goes to an ancient city. A city so old no one remembers it’s name or even who peopled it. I wanted to know more about those people and their city, though to do so would have probably slowed the book down. Same with Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever” or many of the places and realms that are only alluded to in Lord of the Rings. I am fascinated when someone at “National Geographic” writes about archeologists finding an ancient, forgotten city.
I wonder about those people. And I feel a strange connection to them because I bet they worked hard and took care of their kids and dreamed of a bigger house and all like I do. When I read about the one building that the archeologist thinks might have housed a doctor, I think about the people who went there to be treated just as we go to a hospital now. I think of the people who rejoiced at the good news and wept when a loved one passed away.
Who were these people? Where did they go?
From the very first drafts of the story that became “All the Time in Our World”, this idea of the ancient city whose occupants are now forgotten has always been there. And the ancient civilization has always been ours. I love Texas and the United States, but I also am aware that a war or a natural disaster–or just attrition–could leave future generations wondering who we were, if they gave us any thought at all.