Ah, science fiction. How very paranoid you make us all. But considering SciFi originally came from Gothic literature and horror, it shouldn’t be all that shocking. The very first works that would eventually become known as science fiction, were very dark and did not have many kind words for the future. Instead, they often had only doom to tell of. But before you think that the authors were just really depressing people (although some of them might have been), like many forms of Gothic literature, this new genre was dedicated to getting readers to question the world around them, especially the things they took for granted. The emergence of science fiction came about right around the same time as a great scientific fad. That’s right. Science was once a fad. People scrambled to find meaning and sense out of every single thing, often making up large and ridiculous theories with little proof. The good side of this flurry of activity was quite a few legitimate discoveries and inventions. The bad side? Some of those inventions were outrunning safety. Newer technology was being produced, but few knew how to use it and caution was rarely used in the light of the “new age.” For example, machines that could make cotton fabric cut out years of work, but they had no attachments to keep the excess material in check and thousands of workers died slow and painful deaths from the cotton fiber stuck in their lungs.
In the mist of this mad rush for “improvement,” there were those that questioned if this new technology was being used correctly or if it was even good for society at all. They worried where technology was leading the world and how that would affect human life and the planet itself. It was people like this that created science fiction, using visual warnings on technology’s dark sides via deserted worlds, crazed scientists, and oppressive government systems. And it is that last one that concerns the current day the most.
Today’s science fiction shows, novels and movies often seem overly fixated on the “Big Brother,” aka ever watchful and controlling government, angle. Shows like The Unlimited, Rideback and Shangri-la are good examples, although the amount of anime that falls for this story element is vast. Considering that all science fiction has started from a very real worry as to where current technology is leading, this endless repeat of a single plot devise tells us a great deal about our world now. With every electronic device asking where we are and what we’re doing at all hours and those devices now traceable from nearly any location on the planet, it’s clear that more than a few people are worried about just how much personal info the government holds and manipulates. And not just the government. Even run of the mill citizens can dig up info on each other with only a few runs of a search engine.
So before you roll your eyes at another repeat of the Big Brother angle, take a minute to reflect on our world today. And maybe avoid tagging your location to your latest Facebook post. I’m sure your friends can wait a few hours to hear about your latest trip to Safeway.