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Part I

(Part II continues here tomorrow.)

If you look at my official bio I list “unemployed prophet” as one of my professions.

I wrote my own bio and obviously my tongue is firmly in my cheek there. I’ve written science-fiction set in the future and to create the thought experiments our profession’s literature requires we need to engage in futurism so detailed that, often enough, it’s actually of concern to security analysts, and of use to think tanks like the Rand Corporation. One of the famous stories of our profession is how Astounding Science Fiction editor, John W. Campbell, was paid a visit by FBI agents in 1944 because the short story “Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill was perilously close to outing atomic-bomb research being conducted by the ultra-secret Manhattan Project. And, of course, in 1945, Arthur C. Clarke described the deployment of geosynchronous orbital communication satellites in such detail, years before Echo and Telstar, that if he had but published on a patent application, rather than in the magazine Wireless World, he might have ended up richer than Bill Gates.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only high-profile published-and-produced science-fiction writer who admits that he has supernatural psychic powers including precognition, mediumship with the dead, OBE/astral travel, and the Big One — direct communication with God.

Writing science-fiction using the literary techniques of speculation and extrapolation puts me firmly in the tradition of nineteenth and twentieth century authors like H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and the aforementioned Arthur C. Clarke.

Claiming I have foreseen the future puts me in the literary tradition of the sixteenth century author, Michel de Nostredame, better known today as Nostradamus, whose 1555 book The Prophecies has been a bestseller in the subsequent four-and-a-half centuries. Al Gore, eat your heart out!

Crossing back and forth as I do between rationalist authors whose projections of the future claim no supernatural basis, and those who do, I thought it was time I took a look at my prophetic writings and separate the technical from the psychic.

Alongside Night, 1979

This relates to the 1979 edition. I did some updates in the 1999 trade-paperback re-issue — and that’s the text used in the current 30th anniversary PDF edition — so I’m only discussing the 1979 original.

In Alongside Night I portrayed a “near future” in which the U.S. dollar has been inflated to the point of near-worthlessness. As a consequence, economic and political chaos have followed. Foreigners have bought up much of the real assets in the United States. The United States has dropped out of NATO and the remainder of the NATO allies have combined with the European Common Market to form the European Common Market Treaty Organization — EUCOMTO — which has issued a gold-backed currency called the Eurofranc. Possession of gold bullion has once again been prohibited in the United States, as it was from May 1, 1933 to December 31, 1974. The real-estate market has collapsed and abandoned buildings are being lived in by squatters. Street crime is rampant. An organization called Citizens for a Free Society is staging mass rallies in favor of a return to hard money and free markets. Radicals are being secretly arrested without charges or warrants and sent to hidden federal prisons. And the underground Revolutionary Agorist Cadre is using the inability of the United States government to pay its troops with money that anyone will accept to recruit them to protect its own hidden merchant trade routes and marketplaces. At the time of my story the Soviet Union still exists. The technological advances I portray in the book are very modest. I