The coming calamity

On the BBC World Service this morning there was an interview with one of the people who started Paypal and he mentioned something I felt to be significant.

He pointed out that in the past, up to the sixties and seventies, there was a wealth of science fiction literature and almost all of it dealt with the coming technological and medicinal utopia.

Even at the turn of the twentieth century there were many fantastic stories about the wonderous future humans could look forward to.

But, although we haven't quite managed to develop lunar colonies and deep space travel, relative to the thirties and forties it is impossible to deny that we have achieved a kind of technological and medicinal utopia. It is therefore reasonable to say that many futuristic stories of earlier times were prophetic.

However, science fiction literature of the present has changed dramatically and deals mostly with a future in which people suffer a technological hell. Technology in these stories, is almost always used to terrify and subdue the people and heroes in these stories are people who fight against this growing menace.

Consequently, if the science fiction literature of an age is prophetic, I think the the future does not bode well because because in many of these stories, technology is used to benefit the rich and powerful (aided by their lackeys) at the expense of anyone with a sense of their own humanness.

Have you recently seen a sci-fi film which deals with a coming utopia? What kind of future, in films and books, are modern sci-fi writers predicting?

---December 5, 2010---

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