A former colleague of mine has written a book of science fiction suggesting what our great-grandchildren might look forward to in 2092. It promises to be the first in a series about the world far into the future after the world war has destroyed pretty much all of what we call “civilization.” All that is left, besides vast wasteland, is a few communities, cantonments, and the remnants of some of the major cities along with a wealth of technology which has allowed for regular trips to the moon and even a Mars colony. The major player in the game in the Mars Corporation which pretty much runs the world after the nations spent themselves and were left powerless.
The book is a clever indictment and brilliant satire of the corporate world, its depersonalization and relentless thirst for power and wealth — the only real values left besides the urge to simply maintain one’s own life and try to ascend up the corporate ladder and gain a bit more power for oneself. It raises, among other things, the question of whether the world would indeed be better off with one central power, even a corrupt power, keeping all other powers at bay — if the price is human freedom? After all, where has that freedom brought us?
I have only begun the first volume and cannot comment on the whole book (much less the entire Saga) but an insight that I found most thought-provoking was the author’s claim that the disintegration of civilization that led to the world war and the terrible aftermath began with the dehumanization resulting from the technical world: the replacement of human relationships by electronic toys and social media.
The dissident Miller lives outside of the cities (such as they are) and spends his days, among other things, tending to his garden. He tries to explain what happened to the world to his daughter who is loyal to Marsco:
“‘I don’t know how to explain it, Tess, except that the techworld that evolved, that world seemed to make this world unnecessary.’ He placed his bare hand gently on her forearm. . . .’Human touch became unnecessary for some — to enough. Cyberspace became authenticity for far too many.'”
Such is happening all around us at present, people find themselves ignoring one another more and more as human relationships degenerate and the electronic toys and the desire to be “liked” on social media replace such things as genuine contact with other human beings; disappearing are such things as feelings of love and respect, fear and embarrassment — you know, those things that make us human, for better or worse.
I think this is a profound insight on my colleague’s part as I have for years shouted warnings myself (on these pages) about the dangers of those electronic toys. The evidence is overwhelming that they leave parts of the human brain undeveloped (the thinking parts) and they are addictive. Those shouts fall on deaf ears, of course, because, in fact, the toys are addictive and it is not clear that even if they wanted to folks could not put them down even for a day or two, look around them, and interact with others and with the world itself which offers us so much joy and delight. Our author is convinced that we are paying a severe price: the loss of our basic humanity.
Novels have a way of making a point so much more effectively than the sort of prose I write, but this novel has been self-published and lacks the promotional punch that could be provided by a major book company, leading perhaps to one one hellova movie series. This is too bad because the book is insightful, well written and remarkably imaginative. It opens us to the possibility of what the world might be like after we have encountered the near-fatal catastrophe that will finally get our attention, make us realize what a self-involved people we are, the kinds of damage we are doing to our planet, and force us once again to reach out and treat one another with the respect and love we both crave and deserve. Those who survive, that is.
The book is titled The Marsco Dissident and is written by James Zarzana. It is available on Amazon and promises to be a good read. And, no, I will not receive a kickback! Jim doesn’t even know I have written this and will almost certainly not read it. Take care and have a Happy New Year, one and all.
Thanks for this interesting post, Hugh. I have written and self-published a couple of science fiction post-apocalyptic novels myself and your commentary about The Marsco Dissident inspired me to purchase a copy. I look forward to a good read! I will leave a review on Amazon when I have finished it. It seems that humanity has always developed new technology before having the ability to use it wisely – starting with the wheel. Civilization depends upon individuals successfully prioritizing decisions that preserve and promote the common good. Me first – that’s at the core of MAGA.
I hope you enjoy Zarzana’s book. Please let me now what you think. I am not a fan of science fiction, but this one is most interesting. I may check one of yours out as well! Have a good new Year!
Hugh, what makes these futuristic stories plausible is they follow a logical path forward. We have a president who lacks common decency and morality, yet that gets overlooked. He rules by the Machiavellian premise of fear and division. We were headed down this path, but instead of a leader who represents our better angels, we have one who represents our worst.
There are premises like this that could happen – the urban/ rural divide of The Hunger Games, the large sea wall and move inland of Los Angeles from Bladerunner, the desert lawlessness of Mad Max, the inability to grow food from Interstellar, etc. One that has not been investigated is the lack of workable antibiotics as current vaccine companies are going bankrupt and new strains evolve. Keith
Most of the fiction dealing with the future is dark and forbidding. One wonders what has happened to optimism and hope?
Same with news, good news doesn’t sell as well as bad news. To me, the first part of Interstellar was the scariest. The premise was the had to leave the planet as the last crop failed to grow.
Like you, I am not a fan of Sci-Fi, but after reading your post, I wanted to know more, so like John, I have purchased the book, though I am backlogged now and won’t likely get to it for a couple of weeks yet. I have read William Forstchen’s series and was chilled to the bone … I suspect this one will do the same.
Probably. There’s little hope in the hearts of those who write about the future, it appears. But this one has some interesting thoughts and insights. It’s not bad.
I do have to say, Book III of THE MARSCO SAGA, The Marsco Sustainability Project is “hopeful.” It brings the plot of Book I and II to a close and sets up a resolution for the tension. Book IV, forthcoming in about 18 months, will be the prequel, The Ascendancy of Marsco. And then that’s it for the Marsco world as far as I can see. But, thanks for posting and hope you “enjoy” the nightmare Marsco world. James A. Zarzana,