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Journal by mcgrew

I discovered science fiction around 1960 when I was eight, and loved almost all of it until this century. Most of it was about trouble in paradise, whether video or literature. I read Orwell’s Animal Farm in high school, which was in the SF section of the library even though it wasn’t science fiction or speculative fiction, more like a fantasy morality tale. It was a warning about the Fascism America seems to now be marching towards.
        Because I liked that one, I found another one from Orwell, 1984. I stopped reading when the rats were biting the guy in the face, maybe halfway through that long, horrible story about the coming dystopian future that was supposed to happen forty years ago.
        There were very few of the horrible dystopias in the twentieth century, which is why 1984 stuck out so much. The only other dystopia I remember from my youth was the nineteenth century tome The Time Machine.
        Fahrenheit 451 was one I returned to the library after the first chapter. I don’t remember why I disliked it, it’s widely praised.
        Then this century I started buying SF magazines again, around 2010, and discovered that almost all of the new stuff was dystopian. F&SF didn’t have cover to cover dystopias like the rest of them, so I bought a subscription. By the time it was over I didn’t renew, because it, too, had become almost total dystopia. Facebook ads advertising SF all proudly shill how dystopian they are.
        I think I realize why all of the dystopia: This horrible century. Despite how technology has already surpassed most twentieth century speculation, there are other things making anyone born after 1984 think we’re heading towards a dystopian future: The terrorist attack on 9/11 that triggered a war that lasted twenty years; to anyone born in this century it was a lifelong war. Then two years after the Afghan war started, a second, incredibly stupid war in Iraq was started. Under the oil men Bush and Cheney, gasoline prices went from $1.05 to $4.50 at its height here in Springfield, followed by a banking crisis that very nearly put the world in a depression that could have made the Great Depression look like a mild recession in comparison. You can’t get to work without gasoline yet, and the high cost of getting to work killed budgets and mortgages. Luckily, we then elected a man who historians call the tenth best president, and catastrophe was averted.
        To a teenager or young adult then, the world just kept getting worse, especially to racists, since this president was Black.
        Then came our fourth worst president in American history, again according to historians, a very lazy man who had never had to work in his life, a multimillionaire at the age of three. In his administration’s last year, his laziness and aversion to reality and truth cost hundreds of thousands of American lives to a pandemic. I saw him as the American Nero, fiddling while America burned with Covid fever and a breathing tube down its throat.
        And the world is heating up, with people who have made fortunes selling the very thing causing the heating denying that it’s even happening, caring not that the world will be a hellish place if we don’t stop burning their poisons. I saw the same thing with the tobacco industries. These people simply don’t care about anything but wealth and power!
        To someone under about forty, the world has become worse and worse every year of their lives. Of course the future is dystopian, according to their own witness.
        The thing is, there has seldom been a real dystopian future. The past has almost always been more dystopian than almost every epoch’s present. The one time in western history that really did have a dystopian future was the Roman empire, as when it fell, the dark ages overtook the western world for centuries, until the Renaissance. Of course, the Roman empire was dystopian, far worse than most dystopian science fiction. Beheadings, crucifixions, execution by animal attack, plagues…
        Some would say that America had a dystopian future during the “roaring twenties” before the depression, but according to Grandma McGrew, who was in her twenties in the twenties, it only roared for the rich, while working class people lived in what we would consider a dystopia. Multiply that by a hundred if you weren’t White.
        Even during my own lifetime, America and most of the world’s nations have become less and less dystopian, except this century. In the previous century we had horrible institutional racism, with laws that separated White people from everyone else. I can remember seeing the first Black person I’d ever seen, when I was five or six. I was completely ignorant about race, having not been brought up as a racist, and only Whites and Hispanics (who look White to me) were on television. I said “Wow, look at the tan on that guy!” My mother turned bright red and the Black man chuckled. Most Whites were raised to be racist. Black people didn’t gain full rights until 1964, and racism today (even institutional) is far less than it was then.
        But it still exists. Most of my friends are racist and don’t even realize it.
        Once, when I was still working and smoking cigarettes, I huddled in the doorway to try to stay out of the rain, talking with a well-dressed, college educated professional Black woman, who was gesturing with her cigarette and grousing about how store employees would always follow her around to make sure she wasn’t stealing anything.
        I said I had the opposite problem: “I can never find sales people when I need them.” That’s institutional racism. When I’m pulled over, I worry I might get a ticket. When a Black person is pulled over, particularly if he’s a young man, they have to worry that the cop might murder them.
        That’s institutional racism. It’s our present dystopia, but not nearly as dystopian as when I was a child. A century earlier was far more dystopian, Black people weren’t even considered human, and were bought, sold, and worked like dogs or horses, and treated no better than dogs and horses.
        Throughout all of human history until the middle of the nineteenth century, slavery was practiced world-wide. The ultimate dystopia, gone for a century and a half. I think racism a hundred years from now will be just an ugly relic of the past, like slavery is to us today.
        Part of the dystopia of my youth was the filthy, unhealthy environment. Rivers and streams caught fire. There was no air conditioning in cars then, and driving past Monsanto you had to roll the windows up in ninety five degree heat or the air would burn your lungs! Congress started the EPA in the seventies.
        Workplaces were hellish. Grandpa McGrew fell four stories down an elevator shaft because his employer, Purina, was too cheap to put doors on the elevators. Today we have OSHA.
        If you look at history, there have always been ups and downs, with more ups than downs. Every new discovery, every new invention lessens our present dystopia and has throughout history, but people seldom read history. Some people never read anything.
        I spoke of why youth believes in a dystopian future, but what about seniors? That’s something I can’t figure out. Maybe they have bad memories.
        Of course, as mentioned, we’re already seeing the climate changes brought on by global warming, and that will obviously create a dystopia, won’t it?
        Not necessarily. One of the stories in my Yesterday’s Tomorrows compilation is Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s 2 B R 0 2 B. Like was widely feared at the time it was written, the world in Vonnegut’s future is greatly overpopulated at forty million people, and by the year 2000 people are eating seaweed. But although it was as dark as anything he wrote, it wasn’t dystopian. It starts:
                Everything was perfectly swell.
                There were no prisons, no slums, no insane asylums, no cripples, no poverty, no wars.
                All diseases were conquered. So was old age.
                Death, barring accidents, was an adventure for volunteers.
        In my preface to that story, I remarked that few writers seemed to have noticed advances in farm equipment, other farming technologies, or advances in chemistry, biology, agronomy, and other sciences needed to improve yields. The reality of his future and our present is that today there is plenty of food for everyone, and the only reason people go hungry is the politics of greed.
        I see the same happening with global warming. Evil money-worshiping men in high towers running oil wells and coal mines from a safe (to them) distance have tried to keep global warming under wraps, but it’s no longer possible for them. Their industries will die, and like the turn of the twentieth century, new industries will spring up, this time bringing clean energy. Like with farming equipment, windmills and solar panels will improve, and new technologies will spring up, particularly as new advances in science occur. Climate change is happening. We caused it, we can and will fix it.
        I don’t write dystopian SF because I simply don’t believe the future will be anywhere as dystopian as the present, and especially not as bad as the horrible past.

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The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RS3 on Saturday July 24, @08:04PM (5 children)

    by RS3 (6367) on Saturday July 24, @08:04PM (#1159632)

    I spoke of why youth believes in a dystopian future, but what about seniors? That’s something I can’t figure out. Maybe they have bad memories.

    Didn't have time to fully read your post, but just a thought on the above: maybe partly that seniors don't have as long to live and therefore don't imagine about long-term future as much as younger people. And also, as you've written, many things have improved in society (and many have worsened) and maybe seniors see society getting better overall? More elevator doors, less fumes, etc?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @09:08PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @09:08PM (#1159648)

      What about seniors? Well, they've got Medicare, they've got pensions, and as they get dementia they won't give a flying fuck anyway.

      Contrast that with the younger generations, who are aware of how precarious their future is.

      But all the writers missed the true essence of our dystopian disfunctional future. We have a couple of generations now who don't even know how to make smaytalk with strangers, who don't know how to make friends beyond the never-even-met-them faux fron fakebook, and even seniors now constrained to the shitty offerings of "seniors clubs."

      About the only ones left who you could put in a roomful of strangers and have any confidence that they haven't lost their ability to socialize are the dog owners who pretty much owned the streets after lockdown. Without the distraction of traffic, other pedestrians, etc., it was a golden opportunity to strike up new friendships.

      and new we see just how much most people have lost their socializing habits - even after lockdown the streets are pretty empty, as people sot in front of their screens to "socialize " with strangers, many of whom are not who they say.

      And like in 1984, the screens observe them, tirelessly categorizing everything they do.

      People who were essential workers whose physical presence on the job required human interaction and dog walkers came out of this less isolated than everyone else, who are still willingly hiding in their hives, so lonely.

      And mental health workers simply cannot fix this self imposed isolation, not when people are glued to the unreality of facebook and FOMO.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:19PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:19PM (#1159835)

        About seniors: "Do not go gentle into that good night." Of course Dylan Thomas only made it to age 39.

        About youngers: Imagine a generation where everything has been a lie, where beer and circuses are to keep you quiet.
        If we're lucky, the wars will take out the cell towers. Once the wars are over, I expect one group of starving sheep, and another of the formerly-cynical, those who just want to be left alone. to find their own fulfillment in rebuilding their own humanity.

        Rage, rage against the baaaaaaaaaa...

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday July 26, @04:05PM (1 child)

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday July 26, @04:05PM (#1160029) Homepage Journal

        as they get dementia they won't give a flying fuck anyway

        Most of the people I know are old. I don't know a single one with Alzheimer's, although they moved the 95 year old woman who lived next to me a decade to a nursing home because of it, and I knew a guy who shot himself because his wife had it.

        But all the writers missed the true essence of our dystopian disfunctional [sic] future. We have a couple of generations now who don't even know how to make smaytalk [sic]with strangers, who don't know how to make friends beyond the never-even-met-them faux fron [sic] fakebook, and even seniors now constrained to the shitty offerings of "seniors clubs."

        I've not seen any of that. "Couple of generations"? Few were on the internet at all before about 2005. The guy I buy my pot from is 24, he has lots of IRL friends, as did the young musicians I knew at the beginning of the century. Young people I meet in the bar have no trouble with small talk. What universe do you live in? Nothing you say corresponds to anything like reality in my universe.

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @04:11AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @04:11AM (#1160276)

          Few were on the internet at all before about 2005

          I guess that's why you don't know anyone with dementia - you're too young and don't get around much. You seem to have missed the dialup internet era, as well as Compuserve, BBS, Minitel and Alex, etc.

          People have been withdrawing from society since before the internet, not interacting with their next door neighbours for 40 years or more.

          "Cocooning" was a big trend at one point, and this was before the big screen era.

          Talk to the wives - they're very much aware of theirmale partners mental degradation, even though the men deny it, as their short term memory is shot and all they talk about is stuff from 30 years ago. Because that's all they remember.

          And the men become angry out of frustration that they can no longer function properly, get violent, and end up in a home because the police have had to pull them off people they've attacked repeatedly.

          Once it gets to the point they're standing at the door oblivious that they're not in the toilet as they take a piss you know there's a problem. But the people around them hush it up because of the embarrassment - but they sure will be exchanging stories with other women as they look for emotional support and try to navigate what to do with someone who is no longer competent and may be a danger to everyone.

          I knew one guy barely 40 with Alzheimers. His wife could no longer handle it atop his MS, he went to live with his parents, they gave him the boot, so I took care of him for a couple of months. I didn't know that everyone had been hiding the Alzheimers (and Parkinsons) diagnosis from him, he only found out when he overheard me talking with his sister on the phone.

          There's a lot more than you can see because the mental deterioration may not be apparent to the casual observer if you pass them on the street or see them sitting on their porch. It's when you talk to them that you realize there's nobody home.

          And then there's people in their 40s and 50s with vascular dementia. A stroke is all it takes. Even if they recover physically, they can have a serious cognitive imparement. Not being able to manage their finances (sometimes the first clue others have is that they "forgot" to pay the bills for 6 months and are facing homelessness. Or you look in their fridge and the orange juice they swear they bought last week is lumpy and expired last year.

          They think they're functioning, but they're not. And you won't know until they're committed because you don't interact with them.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by DannyB on Monday July 26, @04:37PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 26, @04:37PM (#1160042) Journal

      As you get older, you see the world for what it actually is rather than what you would like it to be.

      Dystopia is the human condition.

      Everyone wishes they could be the master of everyone else. Having unlimited wealth. Power. Control.

      And everyone has their secret list of people they would do away with.

      The 1956 movie Forbidden Planet does not strike me as a dystopia, rather hopeful. Yet it still conveys this message about how savage and dark humans actually are once the truth is discovered.

      I liked Star Trek when I was young. Such a hopeful future. But unrealistic when it comes to human nature. That's why I found the gritty Babylon 5 more believable. Set in about the same time as Trek, it is what you would expect human civilization to really be like.

      When you're young you idealize how things should be. But that makes it unrealistic. At some point Trek became unbelievable for that reason. No money? No economy? Just plenty of physical wealth (food, housing, toys, etc) for everyone? And this idea that people are somehow going to be "better"?

      The other thing Dystopia stories do is warn us of things we should try to avoid. For example the movie Soylent Green. It is bad, completely inconceivable that people should be able to spend their last dying minutes in peace and tranquility.

      --
      In order to make Halloween scary this year, children are ordered NOT to wear masks.
  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @08:49PM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @08:49PM (#1159639)
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @12:58AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @12:58AM (#1159685)

      Ok I'll bite. If this (suburban USA) is a dystopia, it sure is a pleasant one. Far enough from the west coast fires that the air is OK. Plenty of fresh water in the Great Lakes. Nice fresh food in the stores and a modest house.

      No social media (except SN) and no cell phone keep me separate from much of the conventional sources of FOMO. I've always been interested in anything going on--but have managed to channel that into keeping up with developments that effect my professional interests, hobbies (and related). Satisfaction (dopamine hits in current argot) comes in all sorts of forms, often from volunteer work.

      Most important: I realize that I'm damn lucky, and try to remember that every morning as I wake up.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday July 26, @04:07PM (2 children)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday July 26, @04:07PM (#1160031) Homepage Journal

      Yes, today is dystopian, that's part of the point, but the main point is IT'S BETTER THAN the real 1984 was.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @04:34AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @04:34AM (#1160280)
        Better than the real 1984? At that point, there was only a decade of wage stagnation - it hadn't become the norm. People expected this to be temporary. There weren't forest fires that sent smoke spanning the continent. No smashing temperature records by 5°. The Amazon was still a net producer of oxygen. The US industrial prison complex was only beginning. Conspiracy theory proponents were gent regarded as nuts. Anti-vaxxers weren't mainstream and a threat to everyone. Education could be expected to more than pay for itself. Pilar bears weren't losing their habitat. Sars, Mers, Ebola, Zika, and Sars2 were in the future. As was the global financial meltdown and the massive bank-backed mortgage fraud. People could still deny climate change and eat meat without guilt (now we have the guilt but alternatives are just now close to good enough). And your phone wasn't obsolete a year after you boyght it, and didn't spy on you like the TV in the book 1884. And if it did, people would be outraged by such an invasion of privacy and the sellers would go broke.

        And it's going to get much worse, because all the bad stuff is now baked in.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, @03:46AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 01, @03:46AM (#1161867)

          change a few words and you could be writing this about 1905.

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Saturday July 24, @09:18PM (4 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 24, @09:18PM (#1159649) Homepage Journal

    Do Dystopianites know that they live in Dystopia? Maybe some former Soviet citizens can weigh in here. Or Koreans. For that matter, China seems to border on Dystopia to me.

    --
    Let's go Brandon!
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @10:32PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @10:32PM (#1159660)

      Do Dystopianites know that they live in Dystopia?

      Most of McGrew's friends are racist and he's talking up rises in agricultural yields due to petrochemical based fertilizers while simultaneously attacking the petroleum industry. I can't even...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @01:59AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @01:59AM (#1159698)

        If you drop your tribal attitude you will find it quite easy.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:43PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:43PM (#1159840)

          Raison D'être

      • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday July 26, @04:56PM

        by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday July 26, @04:56PM (#1160045) Homepage Journal

        Engineering. A century ago when 2BR02B was written, tractors were cutting edge technology. No harvesters, no automation, no temperature and humidity controlled grain bins, no genetic engineering...

        It's cheap to make fertilizer from oil. When oil is gone it will simply be more expensive, and fertilizer doesn't add to global warming (which is what is wrong with oil).

        --
        Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @09:46PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @09:46PM (#1159654)

    Animal Farm is the rise of the Soviet Union disguised as an Aesop fable.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @10:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 24, @10:35PM (#1159661)

      And 1984 was an attack on Fabian Socialism, the Fabian Society was founded in 1884.

    • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday July 26, @05:00PM (2 children)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday July 26, @05:00PM (#1160046) Homepage Journal

      Animal farm had nothing to do with socialism. The Soviets and the Nazis both called themselves socialist, despite the fact that the two governments were opposite each other and neither was social. If you're looking for Socialism, look to Finland, Sweden, some other modern European countries.

      As I said in the article, it was a warning about Fascism.

      --
      Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, @10:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, @10:31AM (#1160963)

        I was always told it was about communism.
        the workers (farm animals) take over the means of production (farm). except that the pigs are more equal than everyone else.
        the animation was actually shown on public television in romania in the days after ceaușescu was killed, because it had been banned before, and my mother made a point of explaining that the pigs are taking advantage of everyone else (but I had already realized they were evil because they were throwing apples away after only biting them once, despite being only seven years old. for what it's worth, I would still consider the gesture to be a sign of pure evilness today).

        speaking of dystopias, maybe i should stop speaking about myself on the internet...

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, @07:26PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, @07:26PM (#1165557)

        Sorry friend, the Nordic countries are capitalist. They may have progressive elements, but their core is definitely capitalist. Socialism has as a fundamental feature a government planned economy, and the Nordics do not have that. Funny how the most prominent example of socialism, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, you refuse to claim. That's because socialism does not work. Never has.

        Animal Farm was an allegory of the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia and how it played out. Each character represents an element of Russian society. Of the pigs, Old Major represents Lenin with possibly some Marx thrown in, Snowball represents Trotsky, and Napoleon represents Stalin.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by nostyle on Saturday July 24, @11:53PM (2 children)

    by nostyle (11497) Subscriber Badge on Saturday July 24, @11:53PM (#1159671) Journal

    If you are truly in search of dystopia, I'd recommend you start in Syria, Afghanistan, or Myanmar. I understand that Iraq and Iran are pretty messed up as well, as are a few countries in Africa. Also, for some strange reason there are hordes of people fleeing into USA's southern border from various central american dystopias. In rooting out corruption, you follow the money. In discovering dystopia - follow the refugees.

    Boomers from the USA did not get a first-hand taste of the horrors of WWI, the great depression or WWII, although those events seem to have had a profound effect on their parents (if they were like my relatives).

    Sure, some things are improving, and sure, I think our ultimate future will be much brighter. Still, I worry that there are some fundamental defects in the current social order which allow - or perhaps do not inhibit sufficiently - the destruction of the lives and property and freedoms of civilians and working stiffs in regions beset by political, sectarian and ethnic conflict and poverty. I expect it will take a few more seriously dark days for humanity to become fully schooled in the principles required to eradicate and defend against oppression across all nations.

    --

    I'd love to change the world
    But I don't know what to do
    So I'll leave it up to you

    - Ten Years After

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by nostyle on Sunday July 25, @01:48AM

      by nostyle (11497) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 25, @01:48AM (#1159695) Journal

      Here is some recent news [aljazeera.com] discussing the problem. Notably:

      A record 82.4 million people have been displaced around the world in 2020 due to violence and persecution...

      More than two-thirds of all people worldwide who fled abroad came from just five countries, including 6.7 million from Syria, 4 million from Venezuela, 2.6 million from Afghanistan, 2.2 million from South Sudan and another 1.1 million from Myanmar.

      But Ratwatte pointed out that in 2020, a record low of only 37,000 refugees managed to be resettled in a third country as a result of the restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

      I would also point out that you are not one of the "stateless" illegal aliens trying to survive in the USA. You might investigate their stories.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @09:32PM (#1159837)

      The middle-east has been a mess for thousands of years. Let's say... day-1. Resources, money, transportation, communications have changed it a bit, but it's still a mess. Every part of the world has advantages and disadvantages... CA was Heaven on earth, until 1849.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by fliptop on Sunday July 25, @02:25AM (1 child)

    by fliptop (1666) on Sunday July 25, @02:25AM (#1159702) Journal

    I don't remember reading too many dystopian stories from him. And he's considered the king of SF. IIRC most of his stories are about problems that could be catastrophic but get solved in the end.

    --
    It's crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @01:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @01:37PM (#1159759)
      Asimov was far from the king of SF. Heinlein and Clarke left him in the dust, with his juvenile writing style (his stories now seem formulacic and with poor character development).

      More like space opera than an exploration of the human condition. It was part and parcel with the pulps of its time, but nobody wants to read stories populated with cardboard cutouts.

  • (Score: 1, Troll) by khallow on Sunday July 25, @02:50AM (1 child)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday July 25, @02:50AM (#1159703) Journal
    I think a big reason that people write dystopia futures is because utopian futures tend to be boring futures.

    Author: "In the future, there's no serious conflicts, everyone has what they want, there's a lot of cool architecture, and everyone seems pretty happy with that."

    Reader: Zzzzzzzzz.

    While I don't turn down an adequately written dystopia, I find that they are often utterly unrealistic - such as imaging scarcity so severe that it takes an extraordinary effort just to get basic resources, like metals (while ignoring that our societies are massive collections of those kinds of resources).
  • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday July 25, @04:06AM (1 child)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday July 25, @04:06AM (#1159706)

    I wonder what you thought of her stuff. She was kind of a singular author, but she managed to work race issues into her sci-fi and it was well-received.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Sunday July 25, @04:15PM (4 children)

    by Azuma Hazuki (5086) on Sunday July 25, @04:15PM (#1159778) Journal

    We've been chasing dystopia for a good 40 or 50 years here in the US and now we're about to get it good and hard. I just hate that the responsible people will mostly or completely escape the consequences of their actions and innocents will suffer for them.

    --
    I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by krishnoid on Monday July 26, @01:34AM (3 children)

      by krishnoid (1156) on Monday July 26, @01:34AM (#1159879)

      That's kind of the human condition, though? Millennials, Gen Z, et sequenti are going to have their own share of "I'm out for myself" and "Let's try to build a better future for our kids", and the random distribution of them will get comeuppance. If ever "the times make the man", we'll all be watching it happen.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:26AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:26AM (#1159890)

        Try the movie The Best Years of Our Lives [imdb.com], then write that again.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:42AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:42AM (#1159893)

          I just read the screed at the top of this page. Disregard my previous post. Don't follow the link.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by deimtee on Monday July 26, @02:43AM

        by deimtee (3272) on Monday July 26, @02:43AM (#1159894) Journal

        I think Azuma is referring to the theory that the Lizards in charge are getting worried about the peasants getting too uppity. They engineer a dystopia to keep the peasants down.

        Robert Anton Wilson referred to the competing theories as;
        1/ The Revolution of Rising Expectations - Tech and social development is making things better and freer and things should be improving for everyone, the past was horrible the future is going to be better.
        2/ The Revolution of Lowered Expectations - Things are always getting worse, resources are running out, society is breaking down, the past was a Golden Age that we will never get back.

        His theory was that the elite promote the second one because when people expect things to get better and they don't, they look around for the reason why. Then they point at the rich old men hoarding all the wealth and demand they share. This is not popular with the rich old men.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @04:48PM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @04:48PM (#1159784)

    in case you weren't aware, steven pinker wrote a couple of books about how humans and their lives are getting better, thanks to the enlightenment.
    he backs up your points with graphs, and sources the data fairly thoroughly.

    personally, I sometimes get bored with dystopian futures, because everybody's doing it, and it gets kind of repetitive.

    people who claim dystopias are coming and things used to be better forget that history is written by those who CAN write.
    today many more people can "write" (i.e. youtube and twitch and whatever else the cool kids are doing), and suddenly there's a race problem in the US because cops are finally being filmed.

    I agree with you that things are generally improving.

    however, the climate fuck up and the ongoing extinction will be really hard to work around, and they will cause a lot of pain.
    percentage-wise probably not worse than previous horrors humanity went through.
    but in absolute numbers it will be worse than anything we've seen.

    people are right now literally choosing to cross seas in boats when there's a significant risk of drowning, and doing this to move to countries where they would live as second class unwanted/hated noncitizens.
    climate change + extinction event will only lead to conditions getting even worse, displacing even more people.
    I mention extinction because it's a lot easier to turn a monoculture into a desert, and wherever the map says "farmland" it should really say "monoculture".

    obviously if we keep our head and organize, we can sort of handle it.
    but the richest country on Earth chose Trump as a president, and the soon-to-be-richest country is a pressure cooker reaching boiling point under an authoritarian genocidal regime (yes, I'm talking about China, and it's internet browsing young people).
    humans don't seem to be keeping their heads.

    so ... dystopia? not in the long term. but my kids have to live in the short and medium term.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @07:04PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @07:04PM (#1159808)

      and suddenly there's a race problem in the US because cops are finally being filmed.

      You're either trolling or a walking example of white privilege. There has ALWAYS been a race problem in the USA, right from its founding.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @08:42PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @08:42PM (#1159826)

        that was my point. i was being sarcastic. a bunch of comedians have been framing it this way for a while now.

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:53AM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:53AM (#1159897)

      Approximately zero percent of the refugees choosing to make dangerous journeys are due to climate change. There might be some in the future, but right now they are all running from wars or oppression.

      Climate change is mostly a distraction from the real problems, as evidenced by the lack of realizable solutions being proposed. When virtually everyone involved is promoting a scheme that boils down to "give me lots of money" it is hard to give them much credibility. Coal is being phased out anyway, and oil and gas will run out before the CO2 hits problem levels.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @10:59AM (4 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @10:59AM (#1159970)

        CO2 has already hit problem levels. probably ten or twenty years ago.
        stop deluding yourself, and learn to live with the fact that there's no return.

        it's slow, but climate change will not be stopped: the north pole will be ice-free within decades, and greenland within a hundred years. no matter what we do.

        or were you maybe thinking that "problem levels" actually means enough to poison all breathing things?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @11:27AM (3 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @11:27AM (#1159972)

          stop deluding yourself, and learn to live with the fact that there's no return.

          That's exactly the attitude I was referring to. "Oh woe is us, there's nothing we can do, give me lots of money".

          problem levels

          I consider a level over 1200 ppm to be something we might start to be concerned about. 1000 is about ideal for our current biosphere.

          the north pole will be ice-free within decades, and greenland within a hundred years. no matter what we do.

          Arctic and Greenland ice were going away anyway, we have at most sped things up by a few years. CO2 is disappearing into natural sinks (shellfish limestone and biomass) fast enough that it keeps screwing up the doomsayers models.

          Are you aware that it is not that long since there were proposals to set fire to coal seams because there were worries that the CO2 level was too low for plants to grow? What makes you think the current crop of religious fanatics is any better grounded than those scientists were ?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @10:22PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @10:22PM (#1160186)

            That's exactly the attitude I was referring to. "Oh woe is us, there's nothing we can do, give me lots of money".

            You are a dumb fuck

            I consider a level over 1200 ppm to be something we might start to be concerned about. 1000 is about ideal for our current biosphere.

            Still a dumb fuck

            Arctic and Greenland ice were going away anyway, we have at most sped things up by a few years.

            Not enough room for your dumb fuckery, into the chuckle chute with you!

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @01:37AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @01:37AM (#1160248)

              Get on your knees and pray that Saint Algore takes you with him when the Climate Rapture comes.

              You have just traded a silly Giant Sky Fairy religion for a silly Giant Carbon religion.

              Learn to think for yourself Shmuck.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, @10:34AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 29, @10:34AM (#1160965)

              I partly understand your frustration, but no good will come from feeding the troll.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @06:27PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 25, @06:27PM (#1159803)

    For those who still believe the future will be better, try reading the long-term projections from the 70's and how they are still on track. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/25/gaya-herrington-mit-study-the-limits-to-growth [theguardian.com]

    There have always been limits to growth, and we're way beyond anything sustainable. Either we cut demand and population or natural forces will do it for us. And since nobody's going to vote for Kodos the Executioner …

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Monday July 26, @08:14AM (6 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Monday July 26, @08:14AM (#1159930) Journal
      Whose predictions? The Population Bomb people have been ridiculously wrong.

      There have always been limits to growth, and we're way beyond anything sustainable.

      That's why we have technology development. To make the unsustainable sustainable. I think it's telling that the societies which are supposedly the worse, the developed world societies, have negative population growth, the most resources, and are by far the most sustainable societies.

      It's time we learned what works rather than push religious narratives that have little to do with reality.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:22PM (5 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @02:22PM (#1159997)
        Obviously you didn't read the link. They mentioned that the population bomb people were wrong, for the same reason that resource exhaustion would only bite in the 2030s - as costs go up, it's worth investing to extract lower concentration resources - but there's a limit after which it's simply not profitable.

        The population bomb people weren't actually wrong - just missed the timing. There's already way too many people, so who cares about food supply if their existence pushes greenhouse gases way past the tipping point?

        We missed the original SARS pandemic by dumb luck. MERS is still bubbling along in parts of the world, and now we've got COV2. Something that we simply don't have the political will to contain (closed borders that are REALLY closed and mandatory vaccination) so the best we can hope for is it will burn itself out in 5 years or so like the 1890-1895 pandemic (now suspected to be bovine coronavirus that jumped to humans).

        So, are you ready for a pandemic every decade? Because that's what you get with too large a population.

        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Monday July 26, @05:14PM

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday July 26, @05:14PM (#1160054) Homepage Journal

          We missed the original SARS pandemic by dumb luck.

          We missed the SARS pandemic because America had its tenth best president, according to historians. Other countries didn't fare so well. We didn't miss the Covid pandemic because of dumb luck, we (okay, the Electoral College) were dumb enough to elect a lazy billionaire who was a millionaire as a toddler and never had to work in his life, who historians call the fourth worst.

          --
          Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by khallow on Tuesday July 27, @05:24AM (3 children)

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 27, @05:24AM (#1160288) Journal

          Obviously you didn't read the link. They mentioned that the population bomb people were wrong, for the same reason that resource exhaustion would only bite in the 2030s - as costs go up, it's worth investing to extract lower concentration resources - but there's a limit after which it's simply not profitable.

          *sigh*

          Research by Herrington, a rising star in efforts to place data analysis at the center of efforts to curb climate breakdown, affirmed the bleaker scenarios put forward in a landmark 1972 MIT study, The Limits to Growth, that presented various outcomes for what could happen when the growth of industrial civilization collided with finite resources.

          Herrington didn't affirm shit, but the same narratives keep getting pushed.

          They mentioned that the population bomb people were wrong, for the same reason that resource exhaustion would only bite in the 2030s - as costs go up, it's worth investing to extract lower concentration resources - but there's a limit after which it's simply not profitable.

          We're not even close to those limits nor are those limits the true ones. Cost isn't the only factor in resource extraction. Technology development also has lowered dramatically the level at which things become profitable as well as providing substitute goods. Sure, at some point we'll have problems. But I bet we can hit developed world status (year 2100 developed world status, not year 2020 developed world status) for the entire world long before that.

          You should be skeptical of predictions that make excuses instead of adapting to reality. Here, a theory was shown to be vastly wrong, and yet the narrative hasn't changed a bit.

          so who cares about food supply if their existence pushes greenhouse gases way past the tipping point?

          Where's the evidence for that tipping point or the implicit claim that it'll cause more harm than benefit?

          We missed the original SARS pandemic by dumb luck. MERS is still bubbling along in parts of the world, and now we've got COV2. Something that we simply don't have the political will to contain (closed borders that are REALLY closed and mandatory vaccination) so the best we can hope for is it will burn itself out in 5 years or so like the 1890-1895 pandemic (now suspected to be bovine coronavirus that jumped to humans).

          So what? And that was the best we could hope for, even if we were able to contain it like you wanted. Most of the world just isn't capable at present of those closed borders and mandatory vaccinations.

          So, are you ready for a pandemic every decade? Because that's what you get with too large a population.

          The more accurate answer is a pandemic every few decades.

          • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday July 29, @02:20PM (2 children)

            by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday July 29, @02:20PM (#1161006) Homepage Journal

            You must have made an enemy or something, this is the second insightful comment of yours someone modded "troll". It goes completely against the reasons for moderation. Maybe someone should look into it.

            --
            Free Martian whores! [mcgrewbooks.com]
            • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Friday July 30, @03:33AM (1 child)

              by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday July 30, @03:33AM (#1161269) Journal
              It does appear so. My karma was down to 22 at one point, and it presently isn't far off that low. I thought at first, it was those aristarchus journals, which are pretty hard on my karma. But the negative mods just keep coming.

              If it goes on to the point where low karma gets in the way of my posting, I'll bring it up to the admins. Presently, it's not doing much and it allows me to explore counterstrategies.
  • (Score: 3, Touché) by hendrikboom on Sunday July 25, @08:45PM (1 child)

    by hendrikboom (1125) on Sunday July 25, @08:45PM (#1159830) Homepage Journal

    the world in Vonnegut’s future is greatly overpopulated at forty million people, and by the year 2000 people are eating seaweed.

    People are eating seaweed. It's an essential component in quite a few versions of sushi.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, @07:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, @07:29PM (#1165558)

      -nomsg

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @06:11PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, @06:11PM (#1160083)
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mykl on Tuesday July 27, @12:40AM (1 child)

    by Mykl (1112) on Tuesday July 27, @12:40AM (#1160229)

    One of the things that I love about Iain M. Banks' Culture novels is that their society is seemingly idealistic, yet there are plenty of people who look to get out of it and escape to something else - something with a reason to exist.

    Whether the Culture is Idealistic or Dystopian is a matter of perspective. If one lived in a society that provides everything and wants for nothing, there's little reason to even exist - what could be worse than that?

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by khallow on Tuesday July 27, @05:25AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday July 27, @05:25AM (#1160289) Journal

      If one lived in a society that provides everything and wants for nothing, there's little reason to even exist

      Because?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @06:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 27, @06:27AM (#1160298)

    Asian comics and literature is full of dystopian and/or magical thinking self-fulfillment escapism coming from both the growing and the failing-to-grow economies and the younger generation doesn't even register the block's fall or 9/11 as anything but quiz trivia.

    I think no one looks at technology positively anymore since we've seen a whole lot of new tech coming and going last couple of decades but nothing disruptively good happens thanks to it in our daily lives. I mean, in general, most people are working the same or more hours for the same or worse pay so it's pretty hard to look at the new shiny just isn't as sparkly anymore.

    Regardless, much of the new dystopian SF is better since it focuses on drama and narrative as opposed to technomagical worship. But of course, that depends on where you're coming from as a reader.

  • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday July 27, @08:20PM (2 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Tuesday July 27, @08:20PM (#1160449) Journal

    Still, you may be on to something. From a strictly scientific perspective, I could see the potential for a very bright, non-dystopian future.

    From a social perspective, we are 1000% screwed. Theories constructed in shiny white labs don't survive the real world.

    From a Christian perspective, the world is going to implode, fire will rain down from Heaven, and God will save all those who love him. The rest of humanity and the fallen angels will die a final death and will be no more. So, that's the bright shiny future. Doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking care of the world, being good to our neighbors, and try to save any who would be saved (This being the main thing we should be doing). The first job for man created by God was for from him to tend the garden of Eden. Dumping toxic chemicals in the ocean, spewing just as toxic chemicals in the sky, etc. doesn't really jive with the message.

    --
    Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
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