Sunday, February 07, 2016

Dystopia and Apocalypse

A lot of science fiction writers and science fiction fans complain that both the science fiction field and fantasy field is mired in dystopian and apocalyptic books and stories. And they're right. One rarely sees a great forward-thinking novel of light and progress in either genre these days. The industry seems to be led by viruses and invasive species and reanimated dead and planet-ending disasters on a solar scale.

Gone are the days of the future as viewed through rose-tinted glasses where humans move beyond the bounds of our own planetary system and branch out into the cosmos to explore and make contact with other space-faring species. These days when there's a book about going into deep space, it's to fend off an alien invasion and grapple in a struggle that means the very end of existence of Homo sapiens.

And the epic stories of people in fantastic worlds questing across green mountains and verdant fields full of elves and dragons and fairies to find magic or treasure or love (or all three): those are dead and gone. These days it's another fight to the finish with the heroes toe-to-toe with the vilest of things, ready to take them down or see all of civilization drown in its own blood.

What happened?

Well...what I think happened is that we actually are living in at least a dystopia if not actually an apocalypse. And we might already be in the midst of that final death-affirming collapse.

Look around. What's selling in the world of fantastic and speculative fiction? People being eaten alive by animated corpses. Tales of magic and steel drenched in gore and the worst kind of fatalism with no chance of redemption or salvation. Worlds at war with one another over fertile turf with the winner getting the spoils and the losers finding species-wide oblivion. Publishers abound with Fascist tales of racist gun porn--that shit sells. Brother, does it sell!

And why is this? What's going on? Why are so many trapped so completely in these worlds of total death without so much as a glimmer of gold or life or happiness?

Again: we actually are living in something akin to what the religious call the end times. It's just not the end times their silly holy books claimed would come to us. The reality is something worse. Our planet's atmosphere is on fire around us. You can deny it, but you'd be the worst and lowest of idiots to do so. The seas are being poisoned and spoiled and almost daily vomit up immeasurable tons of their dead in the form of fish kills and whale beachings and vast tides of crimson death. Humans fell all of the forests and kill all of the wild animals and pollute all of the rivers and lakes. We even carve down the mountains and toss their bones into the valleys to bury the waterways.

We have raped Mother Earth and frankly--to paraphrase those addled street preachers of old--the end is fucking near.

People deny it. No one likes to acknowledge their own mortality. Especially if they brought it down on their own heads through the worst forms of waste and debauchery. But that's what we've done and that's where we are. And it's coming out in our popular art: films and television and books.

We go without any winters now. The mountains rarely know snow. Droughts expand and rivers dry up and the aquifers retreat to the point of no return as our fellows on this globe, the animals who have been with us for all of these many thousands of years, lie down and die before us.

Yeah. We did it and we know it's coming. We might not want to admit that we did it and that we brought it on ourselves...but we did. Our subconscious is talking to us.

So keep buying your guns. They won't do you any good unless you want to kill yourself or commit murder with them. Read your zombie novels. Those will reinforce your distrust of your neighbors and further inflame your racist madness. Dream of weapons in space, because humans aren't going on deep space journeys anymore. We made out little jaunts around Luna and that's over; that's as close as we'll ever get. So stay glued to your TV and let the propagandists tell you which nations to hate  and which religions to despise and prepare your children for war and send them off as cannon fodder. That's not going to change--we'll keep on doing that right up till the end. That crap won't stop until we've all gone down with the ship.

They say drowning is actually okay after that initial panic.

We'll find out, I reckon.

I actually liked this apocalyptic nightmare of a novel. Because this guy got it right, I think. He spelled it out pretty much the way I think it's going to go down. Not in a flash of atomic fire or because of a giant asteroid doing the smack-down. We're going to merely drown in the ecological equivalent of the pool of shit we have created.

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