I must admit, I did not read all the SF that I should have when I was young. I’m talking years ago like in the 1950s. I hadn’t really gotten interested in science fiction until I read 1984, which was written the year I was born. It left an impression on me and I waited in tense anticipation for that fateful year. When 1984 did come, people laughed. The world (in America) was not the oppressive police state that was predicted. Some say Orwell just got the year wrong.
Having written a dystopian novel myself I wonder what gears were rotating in George Orwell’s mind when he wrote that story. I’m sure many people see SF writers as political prophets, predicting the state of the world in the not so far away future. It’s been said he was the character in his own book, fearful of the big brother that kept watch over him from around every corner. Did he know something about the future that the general populace didn’t? Or was he merely evaluating what might happen as mankind continues as it is? What is sad is that Orwell died shortly after his book was published.
H.G. Wells’ famous book The Time Machine was as well received and controversial as George’s literary achievements. And I can’t help wonder if all that the Time Traveler saw was a dream of some sort, for the descriptions, though different in content, bears a close resemblance to some of the fantastic illusions that one finds in Revelations. The image of great moving crabs that encompass a completely red earth, for instance.
There’s a sadness to the story that kept me from reading the entire book in one or two sittings. I had to put it down and walk away. Did H.G. Wells indeed travel into the future and see the degeneration of human kind? Just as George Orwell saw a political digression in a matter of fifty years, give the human race another few hundred, or a thousand years, will we indeed destroy our planet?
I have deep respect for writers of Science Fiction in this regard. They have an uncanny ability to see the world from the eagle’s nest. Not only in three dimensional vision, but through time as well. I have a tendency to trust what they say because a certain type of logic accompanies the ability to write dystopia.
Some SF is made purely for entertainment. Some as encouragement for young people and some for warning.
A society would do itself a favor in considering such literature. Recognizing the warning signs. Why do these literary geniuses detect such atrocities? Why do they predict that mankind is headed in a negative direction? Are these books purely fictional? Or is there an underlying current of destruction that is sweeping away the human species?
The Time Machine leaves us wondering. After the Traveler comes home, is heckled by this peers and is almost made to doubt his experiences…Where does he go when he leaves again?
Does he go back in time to escape the tragedy of the future?
Or does he go to the future to attempt to change things, finding just the right moment in time when he can make a difference?
What do you think?