Friday, 25 September 2015
O Brave New World?
Aldous Huxley's Savage would prefer the miseries of the conflicted old world to the pleasures of the dystopian New World. Huxley said in his later written Introduction that he should have offered his characters and readers a third choice, a small community dedicated to sanity.
In Harvest The Fire, a man called "Venator" (Latin for "Hunter") has been downloaded into the cybercosm but temporarily resurrected as:
"...a set of ongoing electrophotonic processes in a neural network that received its information through the sensors of the machine it walked in." (p. 61)
Venator reasonably asks:
"Who in their right minds would want a return of...?" (p. 63)
Here I will list the phenomena that Venator refers to:
cancerously swelling population;
necessity to work no matter how nasty or deadening the work might be;
death in less than a hundred years.
I would regard a world freed from these evils as utopian, not dystopian. It would be an opportunity to learn, explore and create, not an occasion for indolence and boredom leading to suicide or extinction! Anderson's text implies that some of his characters are rightly discontented in this utopian scenario. Only when we learn that the cybercosm regards the actions of free human beings as a threat to itself do I start to agree with them.