Sunday, April 19, 2020

Do bloggers (and sci-fi novelists) create their own realities, that they will then have to live under? The virus seems to say that

A couple of thoughts about user-generated content, mine at least.

One of these concerns has to do with my novel manuscripts and sci-fi screenplays, which use material from the DADT books retrospectively.

The novel, in fact, has a “virus” in the plot (it turns out there are some prescient similarities to COVID, even though I started thinking about this around 1999) and there is also an cadre of people from varied backgrounds (with particular attention to a few characters and families) who will escape from Earth, to Titan, and then (in a sequel) to another star system in an O’Neill Cylinder that “aliens” (or “angels”) have built.  Likewise, in the screenplay, the characters are already on the Cylinder;  some will return to a (ruined) Earth for a while before reboarding and going to another home for good.  (As for the virus, I saw what was happening by late January, but I thought the contact tracing and testing would be more effective than it turned out to be.)

A colony living in a “High Frontier” artificial world and transporting over generations to a new home would need an authoritarian political setup. Whole generations might be born and live on the ship and never have the reward of landing.  Individualism would be gone, and people’s heads would have to be oriented only toward the future of the tribe and its comradeship.  Procreation would be mandatory. If that sounds like communism, even Maoism, well, maybe it is.

Science fiction writers indulge in these fantasy plots believing they will never have to live inside their own mental creations.  The coronavirus from China (Red State calls it “Wuhan Virus”) has certainly turned some of us upsidedown, finding ourselves threatened with living the rest of our days (and at age 76 they could be limited) under a system we had imagined on paper.  Is that karma?  Witchcraft means, you create your own reality, and may one day have to live under the products of your own imagination.  Maybe I am living in a simulation.
There is also a potential concern about speech (videos and blog posts) debating the coronavirus issues. Some, even in tech, may rightly fear that these gratuitous content items will give some visitors the impression that, for example, following social distancing rules is a “debate” and not a necessity to save (other people’s) lives.  It is very difficult for someone who is already used to working alone to imagine the kind of solidarity expected down the road.

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