Not With a Bang But a Whimper

Over the weekend I read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a post-apocalyptic young adult scifi novel. Science fiction is one of my favourite genres and if I ever were to make a top-100 list of must-read books dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels would snap up more than a few slots.

Without sharing spoilers the dark subject matter of this story reminds me of other terrifying visions of the future from books like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Book of Dave, I Am Legend, or The Gate to Women’s Country.

I could fill up several more paragraphs with additional titles but can think of only one more-or-less optimistic interpretation of what the lives of people in the future might be like: Star Trek. Gene Roddenbery’s stories have their flaws but one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed Voyager so much so far has to do with how ordinary and hopeful life is there. As in our world sometimes horrible things happen but there isn’t that dank sense of despair that too often leeches out of other futuristic stories. There’s something refreshing about that.

If only we could travel to the future to see what is actually going to happen.

  • Will a few shreds of humanity eke out a precarious existence in a violent, post-apocalyptic world?
  • Will people three hundred years from now wonder how we ever survived with such primitive treatments for diseases like cancer?
  • Will so many records be lost or destroyed that most of what future people know about  21st century life in [your country] will come from criticisms of it from other countries?
  • Will the early years of this century be romanticized as a simpler, better time?

It also makes me wonder why we so often assume the worst about what is to come.

Is it because we know that millions, maybe even billions of people are living in our worst-case scenarios right now? Is expecting the worst part of human nature?

What do you think?


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0 Responses to Not With a Bang But a Whimper

  1. Sarah Bistline

    I have also wondered why people often assume the worst. Maybe believing the worst is easier when confronted with problems? I think it takes more courage, imagination, and determination to maintain an optimistic outlook. That’s one of the things I like about Star Trek. As you said, it is such a hopeful version of what the future might be like. I tend to be an optimist, and I’d like to think that even though serious problems may exist in the future, that good will eventually win out.

  2. I suppose folks are either afraid, pessimistic or both.

    In my case, knowing that we were “wrong” or under-advanced in the past, and that we most likely are wrong right now, and that there will always be better, helps me ditch the know-it-all attitude. In other words, most things we know today will be proven wrong later, so why bother worrying about it?

    But I don’t have children. If I did, I would probably worry like everybody else. They want to make sure their offspring enjoys a good life.

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