28 December 2018

5 Predictions from ‘ The Hunting of the Gods’

What radical innovations did I conjure up for the futuristic Earth in ‘The Hunting of the Gods’? There are quite a few, but here are five that are particularly significant:

[1] Heartbeat Surveillance
The unique heartbeat of every individual is registered and tracked. Scanner can detect any individual and identify who it is instantly. No one can disappear from the pervasive surveillance system. One further use of this technology is that in line with the agreed protocol, governments share their information on how many of their people have died in war so that fighting will stop when fatalities on either side has reached one million (with victory going to the side with under a million killed at that point).

[2] Cloning/Memory Transfer & Identity Therapy
Others have imagined the technology for cloning a body to transfer one’s memory into. But in ‘The Hunting of the Gods’, we have the realisation that such a technology does not preserve one’s identity, it merely creates another being with a replicated memory when one’s true self is terminated. The new self then needs therapy to cope with bearing the guilt of the previous person while trying to realise that one is a new person.

[3] Virtual Immortality
People can live in a relatively youthful and healthy state depending on the dosage they can access for longevity treatment. Most people cannot afford any treatment, and given the lack of nutrition, will die young. A minority can get the medication to live like a youthful middle-aged person until they are 100 or 150. With a weaker dose, some live a long but not quite youthful life. But those on the highest rung can secure the supply that will guarantee them virtual immortality (though it does not make them invulnerable to violent attacks).

[4] Human Reproduction & Biological Convergence
Any pair of human partners can for a fee, submit a request for a foetus to be incubated in a commercial facility that will use randomly selected and mixed genetic codes from a data bank. Ethnic differences have disappeared and all inhabitants have a similar ‘mixed-race’ profile. As men and women alike acquire an offspring in the same way, there is little divergence in what careers they pursue. However, strong divisions still surface as a result of political leaders presenting targeted scapegoats as enemies.

[5] Microbot Technology
Microbots are small dot-sized automatons that can combine to form larger units to perform a vast variety of functions. They can carry out domestic chores, basic gardening, visual projections, medical tasks, and many other duties, including, where a special licence has been granted, military actions. Separated as individual microbots, they can vanish from human sight with ease.

24 December 2018

Dystopian Essays

What can dystopian fiction tell us about the society in which it is written? What do different approaches reveal about the concerns of the authors and how they want to tackle the underlying threats? What forms of utopia risk degenerating into dystopia?

Here are 10 essays on dystopian themes you may find of interest:

'Dystopian Origins: how did we get here?'
: on what gave rise to the dystopian genre.

'The Politics of Control: Huxley, Orwell or Burdekin?': comparing Huxley, Orwell, and their lesser known contemporary, Katherine Burdekin, whose novel, Swastika Night is insightful and terrifying.

'Triffids, High-Rise or Lord of the Flies': on the common themes of lawlessness and disorder in three contrasting novels.

'Utopian Jekyll & Dystopian Hyde': on how utopian intentions can turn into dystopian rule in practice.

'Power Disparity & Dystopian Breakdown': on the central theme of widening power gaps as a precursor to dystopian nightmares.

'The ‘Good’, ‘Bad’ & ‘Ugly’ in Dystopian Fiction': comparing the political targets of different dystopian novels and what they reveal about their authors' attitudes towards social issues.

'Cooperative Gestalt & Dystopian Fiction'
: on the core communitarian themes and their relationship to the cooperative gestalt in the writings of Thomas More, Francis Bacon, and James Harrington.

'Contesting Dystopian Visions': on the recurring dystopian concern with the concentration of wealth in an elite and the consequences for the vulnerable masses.

'Dystopia Goes to Hollywood': a look at the popularity of dystopian films and the opportunities they offer to widen serious political discussions.

'Redrawing the Utopia-Dystopia Roadmap': on some of the ideas that may inform a remapping of utopian and dystopian writings.