Science Fiction often gives us a view of the future. I’m told that a lot of writers describe concepts that, upon the 20th Anniversary of their publishing date, cause them to smile smugly and claime to have foretold the introduction of digital watches, commercial space flights, video phones, dehydrated food and the universal wearing of skivvies.
For example could James Blish, claim to have seen the Wiggles in some fevered dream and written them as the model for the crew of Star Trek?
The other side of the coin was Arthur C. Clark who in 2001, missed the whole personal computer revolution and make his villain a nasty mainframe. He missed the computing revolution by a mile…
But I don’t know much about that because I’m not a great Sci-Fi reader.
The only other riveting tale* I’ve read is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And when I say read, to be more precise, I mean heard. I was one of the luck ones who’s first contact with the yarn was listening to SAFM on Thursday Nights at 9.30 when they broadcast the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop radio series.
No one who is introduced to the Guide through any of the visual interpretations of these wonderful words will never get it. The film was a flop and the TV series a failure. It’s a bit like being introduced to the delights of food for the first time with breakfast cereal. The books are very good but stop after 3. The rest wander about a bit looking for royalty cheques.
But being someone who occasionally writes for radio, it’s still a joy to hear the original productions… with Peter Jones as The Book, Simon Jones as Arthur and Geoffrey McGivern as Ford Prefect. They are Masterpieces of acting, effects, comic timing and music from the crafty days of wood and wire. (To quote The Book… In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri) Originally they were read live which adds more to the enjoyment of the experience… Pure craft… One story goes that Douglas Adams had not finished writing the end of final show when they began to broadcast the beginning of it. There was no time to translate his words from his bank paper scripts onto flimsy script sheets that don’t make rustling noises when you turn the page. So if you have a copy of the original broadcasts you can hear what sounds like chips being eaten every time a page of dialogue ends.
But I digress… where were we? Oh, yes, predicting the future…
Now if Douglas had been alive today he could have proudly laid claim to have predicted Facebook… it’s reason for creation and probably have described the very thing that will eventually kill it.
But he hid the prediction cleverly in a parable…
In the third book he describes Kakrafoon, a planet comprised almost wholly of arid red desert as the home to an annoyingly accomplished and enlightened race called the Belcerebons.
The irritatingly advanced and civilised lifestyle common on this planet, combined with the infuriating and inconsiderate silence which is one of the defining characteristics of the Belcerebon people, had predictably driven its surrounding planets completely mad with indignation.
This was obviously something which they would not stand for.
As a result, the people of Kakrafoon were sentence by Galactic tribunal to the curse of telepathy. Any thought not spoken immediately would be broadcast for everyone to hear across Kakrafoon’s smug neighbouring planets.
You can well imagine the resulting chaos if every thought we had was broadcast to everyone instantaneously.
There was only two ways to block what you really thought of the government, your desire for an Oreo, your thoughts about your workmates’s legs or whether murder was ever justifiable. One way was to talk loudly all the time about the weather, football or how the grass was a nice shade of green. The other way to stop people hearing their innermost secrets was to play host to a very loud rock concert. In The Book’s case it was to host a ‘Disaster Area’ rock concert.
Well, it’s come to pass that we have to endure telepathy today… or at least the constant broadcast of everyone’s inner, unfiltered thoughts. It’s called Twitter and Facebook. And I think, as Douglas Adams predicted, both of these things must be a punishment for past evils…
Thank Heavens I can blot it out by not going anywhere near it. Otherwise I’d have to endure the second ‘cure’. And I’ve never been a big fan of AC/DC.
It’s a sort of pun. They say Lord of the Rings and Star Wars are the same story. The only difference is one has leaves, the other rivets… So Sci-Fi is a kind of riveting tail… Get it? Rivet that holds a space ship together and … oh, I’ve never been very good at puns…