Friday, December 7, 2012

The Red pill or the Green pill?

Are you going to take the Red pill...
... or are you going to take the Green pill?
I've rambled on about how much I hate dystopian novels. And how I intend to write prose that is anti-dystopian.

Sarah Hoyt, et alia, have suggested an alternative they call Human Wave. Human Wave is basically old-fashioned Humanism (neither Secular nor Religious, just Humanism qua Humanism) that's contextualized within the motifs of Science Fiction.

That's a fine sentiment. I like humans. I really like cute little humans and attractive female humans--particularly the one to whom I'm married. But I've always thought "man is the measure of all things" to be a bit too uppity. Not humble enough.

Thus I now feel more of a co-belligerent of Human Wave than an unequivocal ally. Instead, something got me thinking about the future and how my writing should engage the future.

Let's suppose I take all the problems in the world and consider worst-case scenarios. The great terror of my childhood was nuclear war.

Maybe there will be a nuclear war, and the radiation will keep growing so that we'll all die. And if that happens, the last survivors would live in Australia, drive race cars, and take suicide pills. That's not a fun day On The Beach, is it?  
Conversely, the survivors in such a scenario would have the time and resources to build underground or underwater habitats with sufficient shielding to protect against radiation. OR they could build rockets and live on the moon for a century or two while waiting for the radiation to half-life away.

So, do you want to keep calm and carry on or do you want to get excited and make things? Do you want the Red Pill or do you want the Green Pill?

(You'll note that I did not say Blue Pill.)

When I was a wee lad (That sounds better in a Scottish brogue.), you could drive through Gary, Indiana and you would see an orange haze in the air from all the steel making. The river in Cleveland caught fire.

Today you can fill your lungs with air that's a lot cleaner. You can go to the beach and take a dip in water that's a lot cleaner, too.

(But I live in Michigan. It's too cold to go swimming. At least, not until we get some more Global Warming, please.)

What changed between then and now is that our parents saw problems and set about to fixing them. They fixed them so well, that the remaining pollution problems became much more subtle, and more questionable.

That's the green pill. You see something is wrong, and you set about to fixing it.

Is the planet too hot or too cold? Don't Stay Calm and Carry On, roll-up your sleeves, build a thermostat, and hook it up. What about unintended consequences? There's risks in anything and we're already dealing with unintended consequences of everything else that's gone before.

Once Upon A Time the world of the future was not a dystopian place. Stay Calm and Carry On was WW2 and on the other side of the Atlantic. The American way has been to see a problem, and do something to try to fix it. We Get Excited And Make Things.

Happily, today most of the things that are worth making are within the scope and skills of one or a few tinkerers. The Maker Movement is a bunch of folks doing art installations, starting companies, subverting monopolies, and engaging in creative destruction. A lot of us are engineers and computer geeks. Note the word "us" because that's who I am. You may have noticed my experiments with the Raspberry Pi.

I also write. And after you read my stories I hope that you will want to get up and invent a jetpack or a flying car. Or a cure for cancer. Or a better way into space.

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