Dystopian fiction and money. The two go hand in glove. We’ll look at this in more detail. But first, a quick word from everybody’s favorite Professor, Stephen Hawking, in the press this week detailing his adventures in zero-gravity.
An adventurous soul, Hawking takes up daredevil opportunities whenever they arise. Variously, this has included visits to Antartica, traveling in a submarine, and even barreling ‘down the steepest hills of San Francisco in my motorized wheelchair.’
Now there’s a YouTube video I would have liked to have seen.
Think carefully before giving an idiot a pair of scissors
The real purpose of Prof. Hawking’s interview was to promote a new book, How to Make a Spaceship, written by Julian Guthrie. Hawking provides the afterword — he is, after all, an firm advocate of commercial space travel. In fact, the wheelchair-bound professor suggests that our survival as a species might depend on venturing into the stars. We are in danger, apparently, and the biggest threat stems from our own stupidity. No surprises there!
I believe in the possibility of commercial space travel – for exploration and for the preservation of humanity. I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.
It’s hard to argue with that. If 2016 has demonstrated anything, it’s that the world is an incredibly complex place and your average human being (your correspondent included) has no fucking clue what is really going on.
As Robert A. Heinlein was fond of saying: never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
It’s the stupidity, stupid
More professor news. Or is this ‘stupid’ news? Either way, Australian inventor, Prof. David Solomon, says it is “stupid” that vegetarian and vegans are protesting in the UK because the new five-pound polymer note contains animal fat. “It’s stupid. It’s absolutely stupid,” Solomon said, pointing out that animal fat, otherwise known as tallow, is found in candles and soap.
”To make soap, first we render fat…”
Of course, the good professor neglects to mention there are vegan alternatives to animal-based candles and soap. Isn’t capitalism supposed to be about choice? Well, not everybody is taking this lying down. Sharon Meijland, the proprietor of the Rainbow Cafe in Cambridge, announced their decision not to accept the new notes, due to their animal content.
Queasy with unease
Having consulted with staff there, Meijland claimed “we all said we all felt very uneasy about handling it. We thought the only way around this is to just not accept them.” Needless to say, people were outraged by her (seeming) outrage and a spiral of nonsense ensued.
We have no room to discuss the ins and outs of vegetarianism, here. Nor shall we condemn the Rainbow Cafe’s decision to not accept the notes. It’s their business — literally. However, it seems to me, if you’re going to have a problem with money, there might be other priorities to consider.
The politics of ‘Envy’
According to this report, half the world’s wealth is now in the hands of just 1% of the population. The United Kingdom, a country so utterly disunited by strikes, impoverished social care, and bitter, post-Brexit in-fighting that the name seems faintly ridiculous, is the only country in the G7 where inequality had risen since the turn of the century.
But so what? Well, if one imagines a children’s party where one little fella has his own cake, and the other 99 attendees* have to share the remaining cake, you might wonder who exactly was in charge of cake distribution here, and what herbs they were smoking.
* On a side-note. Yes, 100 kids at a party. Yes, that sounds pretty traumatic to your correspondent as well.
The Dystopia is Here
But again, so what? Well, as a lover of dystopian film and literature, income inequality and the coming apocalypse seem irrevocably intertwined. Haven’t well all seen what happens in Metropolis? HG Wells’ The Time Machine? Hell, even The Hunger Games? A world built on income inequality is a world of exploitation, loneliness, and fear.
Take Mr. Robot. Especially the excellent first season. Here is the main protagonist, Elliot, summing things up pretty well:
“It’s painful not to pretend. We’re cowards.” And, to this author at least, here is what it boils down to. We live in a society so gross and unfair that if you stop and consider it for too long you’ll probably end up as jaundiced and terrified as I am 😉
On reflection, maybe don’t do that…
It’s all quiet on the Western front right now. Writing progress? Barely registering. I’m 98% of the way towards completing the first draft of Novel Number 1 and procrastinating like hell. Ah well. Here in the UK, we’re celebrating the birth of the socialist prophet Jesus by spending money we don’t have on a shit load of exploitatively-manufactured goods we don’t need. Oh, and drinking alcohol to the point of ill-health, violence, and despair.
So, with that in mind: a merry Christmas to one and all!
Thoughts? Questions? Criticisms? Recommendations? If you have anything to add, please submit your comment below. It’d be great to hear from you.
You might also enjoy this post, on ‘speculative fiction’: writezu.com/what-is-speculative-fiction/
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