From looking up from my phone and seeing everyone else looking down at theirs, hearing about people cloning their cats and inviting robots into their houses (yes, Alexa counts), to the staring I direct toward trendy commuters on their solowheels, living in a metropolitan setting can weird me out sometimes.
When I come across these futuristic gadgets and hear about the rise of artificial intelligence I’m like “yeah, cool, I’m enlightened,” but I also feel a weird sense of sadness for the things that will eventually become obsolete. That being said ,I absolutely am a faithful consumer to the industries speeding up this change. I let my phone listen to my conversations. I sometimes even click into the suggestive advertisements that flood my web browser. I only learned how to go incognito on Chrome this week..
Sometimes, I feel like this guy:
Science fiction authors intersect each other across numerous, fields take horror and fantasy for instance, and have made some astoundingly accurate predictions about the future of technology, and the societies that make use of it. The truth is, its really easy to write bad sci-fi, but the following visionaries have either predicted a technological future or helped formulate a language commonly used in our modern world. Orwell’s “Big Brother is watching you” would be a well known example. All it really takes to make something come into being is to think of it first, maybe it gets written down, maybe it doesn’t. Eventually, its possibility will become a reality, so be conscious of your thoughts out there!
Here are five well known science fiction novels that changed the future:
1. Brave New World by Adolus Huxely
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I’m not going to say we are all living in Brave New World‘s nightmare future, but I will say there are some concerns I have about its relevance to twenty-first century society. Huxely created a futuristic universe in this 1931 novel written in the shadows of WWI, the Wall Street Crash and the deadly flu virus pandemic of 1918. Eighty-seven years later, the novel is extremely relevant to our society. Huxely’s idea of the helpless masses is still a common theme in pop culture. Films and TV shows, some of which are book adaptations including The Handmaiden’s Tale, The Hunger Games, Black Mirror and Utopia demonstrate this and follow stories about those who have little say in their society, who are at the mercy of an all-powerful leader. Huxley’s view of the future was very different from that of George Orwell, who, in 1948, wrote the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. While Orwell’s dystopia was based on oppression through fear, the earlier Brave New World offered a blueprint for a society controlled by enforced happiness.
2. 1984 by George Orwell
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A dystopian classic, Nineteen Eighty-Four describes a three superstates called Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, whose inhabitants are under the surveillance of the omnipresent government. Orwell, who was born in 1901 and wrote this novel in 1948, survived two world wars, and was witness to the rise of totalitarian regimes on an unprecedented scale. These states appear in the novel to have emerged from post World War II nuclear warfare and civil disintegration in the two decades following the war.
Ron Charles, writing for the Washington Post brings us back to “a widely quoted letter” written in 1944 by Orwell who spoke of “the horrors of emotional nationalism, and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth.” He continues, “already a universally accepted history has ceased to exist, and the exact sciences are endangered.”” Related to this are Charles’s comments on climate change, and the most recent American inauguration. He says “Donald Trump had the contention that his inauguration drew the ‘largest audience ever,’ despite a web-full of photographic evidence to the contrary.” In response to Trump’s comments, the Twittersphere respondedwith allusions to 1984 and Penguin announced plans for a 75,000 copy reprint, noting that since the inauguration, sales for the novel have increased by 9,500.%.
3. Lovestar by Andri Snaer Magnason
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A more recent addition to the list is Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason’s 2004 publication of Lovestar. The author’s imagination seems to be endless and this book is an insightful satirization of the modern world and the social commentary surrounding it. Lovestar is predominantly about a society controlled by a corporation of the same name, whose founder has discovered how to transmit data via birdwaves which then freed society from wires and in turn created cordless modern men and women who are controlled by algorithmic data which is being collected constantly. Regret machines are there to eliminate doubts, children can be reprogrammed if they’re badly behaved or aren’t getting good grades and lovers are brought together and torn apart by calculation systems.
The novel’s ideas about advertising and consumerism in general are where comparisons to present society are most easily drawn, as humans are paid and/or pre-programmed to shout advertisements at one another or more suspiciously, over the course of a fake friendship sponsored entirely by companies who wish to advertise. The main characters of the novel are the scientist Lovestar, and two lovers who are calculated apart, Indridi and Sigrid. Their mission throughout the novel is to prove their love is real, in a world where consumerism, technology and science control all aspects of life.
4. Neuromancer by William Gibson
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Sci-fi writer Jack Womack once said “What if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?” William Gibson’s classic 1984 novel Neuromancer is widely accepted as an indirect influence in the development of the internet and one of the twentieth century’s most potent visions of the future. This is because its prose brings the reader through a number of ideas relating to humankind’s digital future.
The internet could be said to be the biggest change modern in the way humans experience the world. Never before has there been so much economic and social potential from the mass connectivity the service offers, so the thought that this novel provoked such an invention is mind-boggling. It popularized the cyberpunk sub-genre that developed in its wake, as it was a truly exciting read in which most of the action takes place in the then new, grey area of cyber-space. The protagonist, having received a modification surgery to reroute his nervous system, is hooked up to a matrix with a mission to hack into the artificial intelligence that orbits the earth. The first story of a glorified, anti-establishment hacker, some might say.
5. The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G Wells
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This novel explores the theme of humans playing God by tinkering with nature. From Leopard-Man and Fox-Bear Witch being created by slightly insane doctor Moreau in human-animal hybrid experiments, the age of genetic engineering that we are currently setting sail into is of utmost relevance to this piece of science fiction written in 1896. H.G. Wells was truly a visionary of the future and a commentator on the topic of human interference with nature. Although modern medicine has shown that animals lack the necessary brain structure to emulate human faculties such as speech, still in the last few years people have survived surgeries in which pig heart valves are used to replace theirs. Things are certainly gonna get whackier. It’s no surprise that this novel spawned the inspiration for so many more pieces of literature and film.
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