Historian and futures scholar W. Warren Wagar died November 16, 2004, at the age of 72. A specialist in alternative world futures and an expert in the work of pioneering science fiction writer H.G. Wells, Wagar served as history professor at Binghamton University, State University of New York, for 31 years. His courses on the history of the future and World War Three earned him the title of Distinguished Teaching Professor at Binghamton.
|W. Warren Wagar, Futurist, (1932-2004)|
Wagar published 18 books, including A Short History of the Future (1989, rev. 1992 and 1999), a narrative account of the imagined events of the next 200 years. In 1984, he began writing science fiction, publishing nine stories in various magazines and anthologies. He wrote four articles for THE FUTURIST, contributed to a discussion on terrorism in the January-February 2002 issue, served on the editorial board for Futures Research Quarterly, and spoke at several World Future Society conferences.
Wagar’s last book, H.G. Wells: Traversing Time (Wesleyan University Press, 2004), traces Wells’s philosophies on utopia, war, romance, education, and modernism, focusing on his nonfiction and general fiction as well as his science fiction.
"Wagar, and his championing for H.G. Wells, will be greatly missed," said FUTURE SURVEY editor Michael Marien.
NOTE FROM THE WNRF FAMILY:
In 2001, Wagar published an intellectual autobiography, tracing his life and work as a futurist, from his childhood writing on the belief in progress to his studies of ideas of the future in 19th- and 20th-Century thought to his fictional scenario of the next 200 years, A Short History of the Future. He concluded with some warnings for the Third Millennium and a selection of original verse bearing on the human condition and destiny. For a faculty bio and partial list of Wagar's writings, click here for a 220k pdf file.
While not a religionist, Wagar did aspire to the service of being. He spoke of it as cosmic humanism. Here is a poem, written in the late 1990s, that speaks of the faith of the faithless:
Can I provide a faith for the faithless,
A credo for the incredulous,
A priesthood for the forcefully unfrocked?
Is there anything left for us
Who lack, who wobble in voids,
To trust, to testify in the courts
Of ultimate confessions
That we believe?
The answer comes in paired parts:
First no, and then, somehow, yes.
No, we cannot believe.
The evidence is far from full,
The sciences all vacillate.
Our doubts are deafening.
Our doubts are great.
Yes, we do believe, because
We must in fealty to progeny
Carry, struggle, stagger on.
We have ourselves, we have the wisdom
That all of us are fashioned
From the same world-stuff,
As trees, as comets, as galaxies
Colliding in the cosmic dust.
We are one with wilderness,
One with the hot rotations
Of all stars, one with
Venus, one with Mars. Do not abandon
Any faith, until you fill
The vacuum left behind
With love and longing
For the shining songs of being.