I’ve been reading (and watching) science fiction for as long as I can remember and it has, perhaps, helped shape my world view. In times of stress I tend to fall back to reading and watching old favorites. It’s an escape and a confirmation and also, honestly, almost like getting together with old friends. Since the election I’ve been dipping into my old favorites and seeing what the authors intended (or didn’t) – the message and the warning of what happens when we are not our best selves. Just as many of my fellow authors do, I suspect, I also wonder if we can be our best selves. I feel a primal fear about our future. Things do not go well when truth is option and a country and a world where the word post-truth is even being bandied about for how the next generation will live and govern says we are not in a good place.
When my mum was dying I had a couple of movies that I watched as a distraction as I tried to sleep at night. One of those was the Hunger Games. I’ve also read the books a time or two. So I know these books very well – I’ve written a blog post that explains that connection a bit more. I’ve also written a bit about what the changing view of today’s science fiction “hits” might mean to our society.
It’s always important to study history and learn from the past but I’ve always thought that there is much to be learned from science fiction. I see a lot of our current circumstances in the Hunger Games. Think about the Capital and the reverent appraisal of the need for the Games to safeguard the present… A system where various districts must provide for the Capital which protects the people and provides for them. Order must be maintained. Watching the Hunger Games again you can see it so clearly in the insanely sane way that Effie repeats the message on how the Hunger Games are so necessary to maintain the peace. You see it in how Effie is so pleased with all the luxury that the children will get to experience – even if for just a little while. You see it in a Capital that is so willing to eagerly watch children battle to the death, in the people’s who are so lost in not having a choice but to send their children off to face death and work just above the edge of starvation. The world of the Hunger Games is the post truth era.
My own books set far in the future and just barely touching into it imagine a world resulting from just the situation that we have now. Rich families (think Koch, Trump, DeVos, Grey, even Romney) that slowly take over until elections are no longer “necessary”. Creating a society where they mostly have what they need but they have given up privacy and their environment to maintain that standard of living with a government willing to kill rather than to risk losing their power. That future is so closely mirrored in what we are seeing today that it gives me pause.
You can mix history with what is happening and pick a future. Today we are taking the gamble that our democracy can survive in a world where facts are “malleable” The pundits are arguing about how the Democrats can improve their messaging, reach a broader (whiter) audience, rather than the real discussions about facts, lies, Russian and FBI interference, voter suppression and how we are going to get back to a country that is governed by fact and not inference, innuendo, conspiracy theories and just plain lies.
I feel strongly that we can’t just ignore the lies and all of the rest. How do we just ignore it all and go on to pretend that this is all just normal. I think it’s very dangerous to just go forward with a transfer of power to the Trump family business. That is what we are doing and I’m not real sure that they are going to transfer it back. Donald Trump is breaking every norm and custom we have do we think he’s going to stop when he becomes the most powerful man in the world?