Thing One: Who else watched Margaret
, the feature-length drama about the last days of Margaret Thatcher with flashbacks from her career, last week? It was great - if very slow - but the focus was weird. It was all on the pecking-order upheavals and the personalities of the people involved. Every so often someone would make an oblique reference to some policy or other - congratulating her on her economic programme or saying "you're tearing the country apart for a theory!" - or there'd be two seconds of poll tax protesters on a TV in the background, but that was it. And I was like, wot no miners' strike? Wot no Falklands? Etc.
Someone who didn't know any recent history would have been at a loss to say anything she stood for, on the basis of the drama. The zoom was always tight on her - the brilliant Lindsay Duncan, swinging from chilly to neurotic to vulnerable to sometimes actually kind of awesome. But I wanted to wrestle the camera away from the crew and swing it around, zoom it out, to point at all the stuff going on off-screen, and I was left confused as to how we were meant to feel. Scared or sympathetic? I wondered if it was part of a rehabilitation - a swing back towards thinking she was all right really, in preparation for the next election. (Which seems weird to me, that we should be looking more positively at her right now. Didn't her free market policies do a lot to get us in this current mess?) Dan and I mused that it felt as if there had been more about her policies which had been edited out.
And look! We were right!
The script did
have more specific, critical stuff, including an anti-war speech by hubby Denis, and it was
defanged in the final draft. Hmmmm.
Thing Two is Three Worlds Collide
, a thought experiment in the guise of an old-fashioned SF story about first contact between future humans and two different alien species (thanks amuchmoreexotic
). It's not very well written - hackwork at best - but it's full of interesting concepts and moral dilemmas. One of the species has based their whole system of goodness and morality around eating their own babies. The others are telepathic, regard the happiness of all as the most important thing (because what hurts one hurts them all, through the freaky and squishy communal psychic sex thing they refer to as untranslatable 2
), and thus think not doing one's utmost to eliminate unhappiness is evil. It has a lot of thought-provoking stuff about how difficult it is to conceive of things outside of our evolutionary and cultural worldview. I liked that the baby-eating aliens had science fiction in which all their imaginary other races, however bizarre, also ate their own babies.
, you might enjoy it, given that economics is one of your Fannish Things. The ship uses a model economic system, with things and ideas constantly rising and falling in value, to help make decisions.)
So that's the good kind of hmmmmm, with one exception. The writer says in the comments that he wanted to include some shocking things in his future human society, since the future will almost certainly include things which are normal for the future people but would be appalling and disgusting to us. Fair enough. Unfortunately, his example of this is that in the future, rape is legal
. ( warning: icky future-society rape stuff )
This is occupying my mind because it's something I've been wondering about in general for years. When you come up against people of former generations who seem to be closed-minded and set in their ways and suspicious of anything new, it's easy to declare that will never happen to you. You'll always keep up with the new stuff and move with the times. But I suspect everyone thinks that when they're young, then encounters new things they can't cope with. I had been trying to come up with changes that would make me uncomfortable, make me want to huddle up with people my age and complain about the young folks. But "rape is the new socially acceptable fun thing!" isn't the sort of thing I mean. It wouldn't be the shock of the new and inconceivable, it would be the gloom of same-shit-different-century.
I bet between us we can come up with some genuinely shocking possible future developments. Ones that, if they came about when we were all old fogeys, would make us feel the ground had melted away under our feet and we no longer had any place in this crazy new world. Ones which were unknown in recent history and challenged things we had always taken for granted as part of the basic rules of being human.
Just off the top of my head, perhaps medical technology advances - to the point where you can regenerate from almost any damage like Claire in Heroes - have made grievous bodily harm a normal way of expressing annoyance at someone the way swearing at them would be today. Lovers and friends routinely stab and mutilate each other for fun, because internal organs are just so interesting to examine, and it's a different kind of intimacy. Duels to the death, person-hunts and jumping out of planes without parachutes are popular extreme sports.
Or perhaps plastic surgery is standard for all. Or the written word disappears and only the most dedicated scholars learn to read. Or (like in The Meme Machine
and the end of The Invisibles) the very idea of the individual self disappears. That sort of thing.
Not, y'know, a 'shocking future development' which reverses something which only changed relatively recently and which is still the case in many parts of the world.
What would you be shocked and horrified to find had changed if you woke up in the future?