2054: An Anthology — Various

Deep Ocean BluesYudhanjaya Wijeratne
The Memory HackerJT Lawrence
Melting ShlemielJason Werbeloff
The CamilleColby R. Rice

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RUR — Karel Čapek

Another book in my S.F. Masterworks collection.

Firstly, this is not a story book, it is a play, and it’s written as a play.   Which is not to say it’s bad, it’s just different from what one is used to in ones sci-fi.

But i think the play part is where Karel doesn’t do the story, or his point, justice.   Written as a play it’s just too hectic, too fast paced, with never ending characters just piling in their piece — basically, it’s the television of its day.

I think that most of what Karel was trying to say about the world and the future gets lost in a load of characters continuously having their say without any having any thoughts.

Yes, beware the robots, a metaphor for the means of production, because the hand that feeds us will eventually turn and bite us and destroy us all.   But this point would have been made much better in a novel, but it is what it is.

For its time it is a great work of sci-fi, and also a direct critique upon humanity and society.   And here we are 100 years after Karel wrote this and most people in the developed world are incapable of feeding themselves, clothing themselves, starting a real fire, making anything, etc..   We’ve sold our souls to technology and become completely dependent upon it.   And whoever controls that technology controls humanity.   That’s what is known as hydraulic despotism, or, as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen would say… ‘He who controls the spice, controls the universe.’

Final thoughts on RUR… Worth a quick read for all you anorak-ed, train spotting, sci-fi historians out there — but otherwise there’s not much point.

Karel’s Page

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Star Born — Andre Norton

Like ‘Storm Over Warlock’, this is another book with Andre mixing sci-fi and fantasy.   This time its the turn of mermen to be mixing it with the alien invaders/visitors/settlers to their planet.   And once again, Andre carries this off brilliantly, wonderfully written, classic sci-fi.

Quite thought provoking, in that it dips its toe into the early ideas of the Star Trek prime directive.   Should we interfere, should we get involved?   But if we, in the future, launch ourselves into the cosmos and into other people’s societies, then haven’t we already broken that prime directive?   Simply putting ourselves into space is interfering with whatever is already out there, yet here we go spewing our space junk in every direction in arrogance and ignorance not even caring what effects we may have.

There’s part of this harkens back to ‘Childhood’s End’ and the proclamation that the stars are not for humans, and that Homo sapiens would become extinct upon the Earth and never reach beyond because we simply aren’t suitable and capable to do so mentally.

Maybe it’s too late to realise and accept that just because we can do something physically does not mean that we should do it.   But off goes science and progress charging into the future without any care or consideration for the spiritual progress that is needed to temper our greed and wants.

Let’s be honest, we aren’t charging into space for the well being of our species, we’re charging into space due to xenophobic paranoia that some other country will get there and exploit it first.   The space race has never been a marvel of human development, but a charge fuelled by fear, greed and paranoia to beat other’s to the prize and plant a stupid flag before someone else can in order to claim that little bit of the infinite cosmos for our own little inbred sub-set of Homo sapiens.   This is not a good way to introduce our species to the cosmos.   Homo sapiens are so fucking crass!

Available as a single book or in the collection, ‘Visions of Distant Shores’.

Andre’s Page

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