Tag Archives: apocalypse

Zardoz Revisited

As I’ve been assembling thoughts for the next episodes in the Child Champs environment of our world in 2112, a surprising thought came to mind: Zardoz, the 1974 movie by John Boorman featuring Sean Connery as he was exiting his Bond persona. It has some rich world elements in it worth exploring.

The movie itself is idiosyncratic and has not been terribly memorable over the years. But I think that is because the barbarian side and the mind-tripping sides were so hokey. The life-inside-the-dome side, as I now recall, had some interesting exploring of the TES (Total Entitlement State) environment I am now trying to envision and write about.

This inside-the-dome life featured:
o some fairly decent human-computer interfacing. I recall a human arguing with the computer about how to expend computing resources
o immmortality through cloning and conciousness transferring with memories maintained in cyber
o a crisis about what people should be doing. There was a lot of hipster-style activity, and many people were falling into deep apathy
o conflict and exile: people who lost serious disputes were punished by aging with its accompanying enfeeblement, not death, because everyone in the dome was immortal.

And that’s just what I recall from seeing it decades ago. This is worth revisiting!

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The Challenge

In Child Champs I took on the challenge of writing an interesting story about living one hundred years from now. This was a big challenge because I see humanity as “winning” — this will not be some sort of post-apocalypse world. It will be a rich world, and rich worlds are complex, which makes them a lot harder to write about than the “life is cheap, barbarians are everywhere” story background which has been much more common for stories about the future for decades. When I was growing up it was post-nuclear war apocalypse, now it’s a post-climate change or post-resource exhaustion apocalypse. Child Champs is much more in the style of Fred Pohl in the Heechee series and Isaac Asimov in the Foundation and I Robot series. These, too, are rich world scenarios.

The foundation premises in Child Champs are:

o that human population will peak in the 2050’s then decline slowly. This will happen because humanity will become 90% urban, and prosperous city folk don’t have as many kids as poor country folk.

o that productivity — efficiency in making and using stuff — is going to continue its steady increase. This is important because it means we won’t run out of resources. In our future, as is true now, efficiency and effectiveness are the ultimate “green” — they do a lot more to save our planet than windmills and recycling bins.

o that our lives will have a lot more computer, nanotechnology and bioengineering mixed in — there’s not only an app for that, there’s a gene and a nanodevice as well.

In sum, this is a rich world, a very rich world, and a very probable one.

Then I put my thinking cap on: Given these premises as a starting point, what’s living in this world going to be like? What are humans going to be doing?

As I say as part of my Technofiction introduction on White World, “Technology is the variable. Human thinking is the constant.” The humans inhabiting this rich world are going to be thinking very much like people do today. They are going to have hopes and fears, they are going to have ambitions and frustrations, they are going to take much in their world for granted. (“Driverless cars… Of course, why do you ask about those?”) But the tools available for expressing those very human emotions are going to be different, so the people of that future world will act differently and think about different things.

One thing that will remain near and dear to the heart, and be considered very important, will be having and raising children. That’s why I picked it as theme for this story.

 

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