Science fiction or science fact?

I wondered about which topic to cover this month, and I chose my favourite genre, scifi. My favourite scifi authors were Herbert, Heinlein, Asimov, Clark, Aldis and Dick, all sadly no longer with us. Of course, there are new writers today; but none quite fill the boots of those classic writers.

The 1980s and 1990s were great times for scifi blockbuster movies: Star Wars, Alien, Terminator, Total Recall, Avatar and the Fifth Element. My particular favourite was Blade Runner, a futuristic scifi about some rogue androids and what it means to be human. All these movies told us something about the indomitable nature of the human spirit in the midst of adversity — a common theme in scifi.

What I like about scifi is the excitement of exploring fantastic new worlds and extraordinary situations and challenges. All storytelling is about connecting and bonding with a character, submersing ourselves in an imagined story world, and following them on their story journey as they struggle against the odds. The difference is that scifi and fantasy sets no boundaries on those story worlds. They can be as weird and wonderful as our imagination can craft.

What cannot change, however, is the human attributes of our fictional characters (even if technically they’re nonhuman). We may be a human/cyborg living in high-tech 25th century with brain implants, but we will have the same human desires, needs and frailties as we have today. That’s the things that make us human.

A lot of scifi is naturally about the future. What will humanity’s future look like and will it be better or worse than today? Some writers of dystopian scifi obviously took a negative view. George Orwell’s and Aldus Huxley’s writing in 1930s and 1940s warned us of the dangers or tyrannical governments. Orwell’s ideas were influenced by the growth of communism after the Russian revolution. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the economic transformation of China in the last two decades, one might have thought that the worse aspects of marxism were dead, and that those ideas could never spread to the west. But the last few years has shown that even western governments, when presented with a crisis and opportunity for grasping unprecedented powers, are slow to relinquish them after the crisis.

During the pandemic we saw governments across the world take on unprecedented powers to control our movement, to censor all criticism of the government’s narrative and force vaccination on us through propaganda, fear-mongering and coercion. And the media and social networks worked in lockstep with those governments.

In Australia the government used internment camps for those unwilling to bend to the governments rules. In the US, Canada, and UK vaccination was made a condition of employment in certain public sectors. In Canada truckers who had the temerity to challenge the government rules and those who supported them had their bank accounts and motor insurance frozen. In various states in the US medical staff that didn’t follow government guidance were threatened to be disbarred. And the powerful social media, working in lockstep with the governments would discredit and cancel anyone who criticised the governments’ narrative.

Robert Heinlein once wrote about the dangers of censorship:
“When a government… undertakes to say to its subjects, ‘This you may not read, this you may not see, this you are forbidden to know’, the end results tyranny and oppression no matter how holy the motives.”

The pandemic is over, but do you see governments relinquishing their powers or apologising for their actions? Instead we see governments claiming the new crisis is climate change. A crisis in energy prices, fertiliser prices and governments committed to net zero carbon policies have decimated western economies. In the Netherlands the government has waged a war against their farmers forcing them to sell their land and reduce their use of fertilisers all in the name of net zero policies. The EU has sanctioned the use of insects in the food industry, again in the misguided object of reducing the use of farming livestock, as if cattle burps would make a difference.

The rich and influential are the new global elite who used their private planes to attend a conferences on the ‘The Great Reset’ and on ‘Climate Change’, while discouraging everyone else to stop using fossil fuels. I am reminded of the words of George Orwell published in Animal Farm in 1945:
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Yes, Orwell was right.

Another disturbing trend is the rise of a new cultural marxism that uses an imaginary oppression of race and the sexual orientation rather than class to divide us. Their modus oporandi is to feed the emotions of victimhood and re-write the past. The destruction of statues of our past heroes, and the rewriting of our classic works is part of these marxist plans. Great heroes such as Nelson and Churchill are branded as racist. And even the term racism has been redefined to meet their needs in a similar way to Orwell’s “Newspeak”.

Orwell’s words from 1984 are eerily prescient:
“Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past.”

The liberals of the 19th and early 20th century were the great defenders of discourse and free speech. Not so today. Modern liberals are the antithesis of free speech; cruel censors and cancellers of any ‘denier’ who disagrees with them. Even truthful information that may offend them is branded hate speech or misinformation if it is deemed to offend someone. What is next – thought crime. Yes, even that has happened in the UK where police have visited those whose tweets display wrong thinking.

So what can science fiction tell us about the future? More of the same perhaps, or will the pendulum swing the opposite way as the silent majority rebels against this form of radicalism? Either course is possible. Politicians will always back those ideas that they feel will gel with the populous and keep them in power.

What is clear is that science and technology will not stand still. One area of development is likely to be the further development of Artificial Intelligence, even to the extent that it may threaten some in the human workforce. That is the background theme to my book, “AndroDigm Park 2067“. It is set in a future world where governments have lost control to the global cyber businesses. Androids are replacing humans in the workforce and this naturally lead to growing social tension and militancy. But this is only the backdrop to my story, which is about a Marshall who has lost his family and a young woman whose mother is cruelly killed at one of the demonstrations. It’s a futuristic who-dunnit. If you like the story premise, it’s available on Amazon.

For me this blog is very different from my usual on the subject of storytelling. I don’t usually stray into the realm of politics. If that offended you, I’m sorry. But it’s hard to speculate about the future without considering the present.

So what do you think the future holds for us? Let me know what you think?

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