Posts Tagged ‘Near Future’

. . . the class is about how science fiction, and speculative fiction in general, “is a favored genre for reimagining, reworking and critiquing gender roles, human sexuality, the relationship between humans and technology, war, and racial stereotypes.  It is a place where utopic and dystopic notions of government and power are explored, a powerful lens for looking back at our own contemporary reality.”

Yes, I’m quoting myself quoting something else, in this case the syllabus of Joan Hawkins’s media class on science fiction in which I and two other “SCIFI” critique group members took part (see May 24).  Apropos of this, last night’s DVD fare was V FOR VENDETTA, spurred by a review by Emily Asher-Perrin via yesterday’s TOR.COM email.  It was the second time I’d seen the movie, actually, and I hadn’t been all that impressed the first time, I V2suspect probably because I watched it as an adventure, dystopic, yes, but on the surface the exploits of a single dissident against “The Man.”  On that basis it wasn’t bad, mind you, but seemed a little too Zorro-like to my taste, too comic-book like maybe (notwithstanding that it is itself based on a graphic novel).

And yes, there are plot holes, if one wants to see them.  But on this second viewing I was looking past the surface, this time at the background, which, sometimes even in comic books as well, offered a richness of context in detail which, I would say now, is the point of the film.  And, as Asher-Perrin argues in her review, perhaps the film is more important now than in any time during its ten-year history, especially given events of last weekend.

How do dystopias work, anyway, and what are their  details?  In Joan Hawkins’s class, one story I described was one of my own, “Invisible People” (cf. October 30, May 30 2015, et al.), with MATRIX-like implications of a semi-voluntary brainwashing, an avoidance of viewing the truth straight on fueled by a desire to conform with others, to not rock the boat.  To blend into the background, even if that background is dishonest.  In V FOR VENDETTA it’s more direct — the background is fear.  In “Invisible People” there may be an echo more of the past, of a mid-century, 1950s America where there was fear too, of “Godless Communism” just as there is now of “radical Islamic terrorism,” but also, as now, an underlying more general fear of those (things and people) that are just . . . “different.”  In V FOR VENDETTA it’s more direct, though with echoes also, accented perhaps by its setting in England, of Orwell’s 1984.

In 1950s America there was ultimately a rebellion of sorts, the shakeout of which is still with us.  Rock ‘n’ Roll, for one thing, as a sort of precursor but, more, the counterculture movement that grew up in the late 1960s.  When the ‘80s came, perhaps it was sold out, what parts remained of it — in economic terms the growing prosperity for those at the bottom as well as the top, what once we thought of as “the American dream,” has yet to return too.  While in the world of V FOR VENDETTA. . . ?

For a look at Asher-Perrin’s view, “Apologize to No One — V FOR VENDETTA Is More Important Today Than it Ever Was,” one may press here.

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Well, it’s partly tongue in cheek, but there is that go-playing program, and we humans gave up our mastery in chess decades ago.  But serving up hamburgers — what will jr-fdfb3ff1074aa32ed435d1a0a8d9d298become of the US economy?  Or, as Jon Comulada puts it in his introduction to “5 Robots You Should Be Keeping Your Eye On.  For the Sake of Humanity,” on UPWORTHY.COM:

Every movie about a robot uprising has the same scene:  You know, the one where someone explains that it didn’t start out ALL bad.

It’s usually followed by a flashback where we’re shown that human technology was progressing, we were building better and smarter machines and sitting back to marvel at our technological robut-9a925cb999a54362192fafec870bddadadvances.

Then, before anyone knew what hit them, humanity became slaves to our new robot overlords.

Is that warning enough?  To see more, press here.

These were the words on Editor F.L. Hall’s Facebook page this morning, announcing that DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS (see November 24 2015, et al.) has been published — at least in Kindle form.  Or, the day before, “It took a little over a year but good things come to those who wait.  Later today or early tomorrow we will have the Launch of Dystopian Express from Hydra Publications!” And the print edition is to follow soon, while the ebook edition can now be found here.  To quote from the blurb:  “What happens when every aspect of your life DystopiaFullCoveris managed, manipulated, and controlled by someone else.  Everyone is guaranteed the opportunity to suffer equally for the greater good in this dystopian society.  . . .   Your possessions, your body, and even your thoughts, belong to them and not yourself.  What will you do?

“Jump on board and witness how the landscape has changed as we ride the rails of the Dystopian Express.”

My tale in this turmoil is one called “Invisible People,” originally published in DARK INFINITY for Winter 1992-93, which is one of transition.  What happens when some people are just forgotten, no longer existing as far as society is concerned.  Perhaps because they lost a job, thus written off because they no longer contribute.  Or even now, do you even notice the homeless guy on the street with with the tin cup, or has he become all but invisible to us already?

So all aboard, eh?

In the email station even as I write, a pdf copy of the Hydra Publications anthology DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS, with my story “Invisible People” (see October 30, et al.), has been received.  And with it has come a table of contents in story order, subject to only last-minute corrections, with mine the third to last car on the train.  “Invisible People” is an early story, first published in the Winter 1992-93 issue of DARK INFINITY, ycover artet one that may still be pertinent today, of what happens when people are so disaffected that society has forgotten about them.  But in this case it’s society itself that has forced them out in the first place.

“Occupy,” anyone?  Well not exactly, but certainly not the movements still within politics either, no matter how loudly they may claim to be excluded.  Nor terrorists either, at least not exactly — for these are people who, if not wishing to be entirely unseen, had found that blending in with the crowd, to not be too noticed, could work as a kind of survival technique.

At least up to now.

And these are the problems of just one world as depicted aboard the DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS.  There are eighteen other worlds that appear with it, as we can see here:

.
Table of Contents

Friending, Gregory L. Norris — 1
Republic of Masks, Josh Brown — 4
Greater Good, Jeff Provine — 8
An Unfettered Life, C. Bryan Brown — 17
Surrender, Bob Brown — 32
The Hating, Nigel Anthony Sellars — 39
The Unbinding, M. P. Neal — 59
Cohort 17, Val Muller — 67
Data Crabs, Deborah Walker — 86
The First Price, Benjamin Sperduto — 94
Jötnar, Colonel D. R. Acula — 110
Fudgesickles, Brick Marlin — 122
Scarecrow, Scarecrow on the Hill, Tracy Fahey — 130
The Unnaturals, Michael J. Epstein — 138
Fit to Rule, Stephanie Neilan — 142
When the Wind Blows, Pam Farley — 146
Invisible People, James Dorr — 149
Twenty-One Seconds, Ian Neack — 161
Finding Chidera, Dave Creek — 169

Sunday I received the contract for Hydra Publications’ dystopian anthology (see May 30), along with the announcement from Editor Frank Hall that it now has at least a tentative name, DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS.  My story in this is “Invisible People,” itself a reprint originally published in the Winter 1992/93 edition of DARK INFINITY.  Monday the signed copy goes in the mail and, if all goes well, DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS is expected to leave the roundhouse by the end of the year, “sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Other authors and stories are also listed in the May 30 post, below.  Mine is a bit of near-future science fiction where people who lose their place in society — as through loss of a job in this case — become truly invisible, but also able to see the real world including its defects, hidden by mass brainwashing techniques from the general populace.

Credit goes to Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads Publishing for announcing this one, with my novelette PEDS one of the books on sale.  But let’s let DriveThruFiction say it in their own words:  “To celebrate Science Fiction Month, this title has been marked down by 15% through all of May!”   And that’s not all, Nomadic Delirium Press’s anthology A ROBOT, A CYBORG, AND A MARTIAN WALK INTO A SPACE BAR with my tale of a lovelorn toaster, “Toast,” as one of its offerings is also part of the DriveThruFiction May sale.  To check them out, for PEDS click here, or A ROBOT, et al. here.  And then, to be sure, you can explore around for other science fiction bargains as well.




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