Apr. 27th, 2014

I said some of this on FB, but a more complete explanation has to go here (which reminds me, it's time to archive LJ again and export it as xml so I don't lose my life memories... ;).

I picked up a copy of Bellamy's "Looking Backward" in a used book store the other weekend--that was the book I saw at the church sale a few years ago but when I came back for it someone else had already bought it? It's a utopian tale where a fellow is hypnotized to sleep in 1887 and ends up being woken up in the year 2000 (all in Boston), and the novel is an explanation of how civilization has advanced and solved the problems of the Gilded Age. They've basically become socialist--much like Heinlein's "For us, the Living", there's no paper money, just credit cards based on your contributions to society, and everyone has enough to eat, live on, clothes, education, etc.

I've got a collection going of books like these--starting with Jules Verne's 1860 piece "Paris in the 1960s", Bellamy's "Looking Backward", Stockton's "The Stone of Sardis" from the 1890's, and Heinlein's "For us, the Living" from the 1930s. Stockton's is the only one that is actually a story; the others are all just chances to explain what's wrong with society at the time the piece was written. But both Verne and Stockton were pointing out the problems with the path the current society was on--Verne was upset over the rise of the natural sciences and the devaluation of the humanities (his book is SO depressing! though sadly accurate), while Stockton was predicting a time in the 1920s when human curiosity was dead, since everyone was comfortable and no one was fighting any more (because the weapons were so powerful that war was madness--and that was before the rise of mustard gas!). Heinlein and Bellamy, on the other hand, are both positive that in the future we will have solved society's problems--or they are just pontificating on how they think the problems should be solved; the result is the same, that they are picturing a generally good outcome.

I really like seeing what people of time X think the future will be like. It's such an insight into the time they were living in, so hear them talking about the problems they face. Though as I pointed out on FB, the parallels between the problems Bellamy was commenting on and the problems we are facing today are scarily strong. :P



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