May 27, 2011

The Future is Around us. Prophecy and Hollywood

Philip Kindred Dick

Stories entertain and sometimes they educate us as well. Think back to the days of early man when nothing was written down. Explanations of the world, stories of hunting, killing and living were told around the camp fires and this is how we created a common view of the world.

Now fast forward to the 21st century and ask yourself what makes you think and what challenges you to look at things differently? For me good science fiction does this. Not just aliens and battles but stories which look at the world in a different way and undermine what we know at the moment. And none do this better than those written Philip Kindred Dick. Who? Never heard of him? Well he wrote the stories behind Blade runner, Total recall, Minority report and more recently Paycheck.

This was a man who wrote most of his stories in the 1960’s and 70’s. How was it that his work has become so valuable whilst that of other well known Sci fi authors have become rather dated? When you read his stories they seem to be truly bound into “old America”. Huge evil corporations and governments determined to win at all costs. The look and feel is dated but what lasts are the ideas. The way he dissects alternative futures, talks about memory implants and makes you doubt what is real, this is the modern world where Sci fi lives. This is the world of the Terminator and the Matrix.

As an example let us look at Jon’s world. A simple story about a scientist working on time travel who also has a troubled son, Jon, who has visions of a better world with us but we can’t see it. These visions are getting more frequent and stronger. Meanwhile his father has finished the time travel ship and plans to go back to a period before the war to end wars and to find the scientist who discovered how to make machines that think. Back they go and they inadvertently kill the scientist and burn his research papers. Racing back to their own time they watch as a wave of altered scenarios sweeps by below them. The terrible war ends early and ends well. The world below them is better, brighter and a good world. By the time they arrive at their own time the wave of change has arrived and he realises that what his son saw in his visions was this new and better world.

Now let’s apply this idea to what is here. There are two proposals:-

  1. First you can travel back and change things.
  2. Secondly you can the future start to form around you.

Well the first point we can’t prove at the moment. But what about the second point? Can we see the future start to form around us? Think back to the tipping points of the last 30 years or so:

  1. The Berlin Wall and the fall of communism.
  2. The dot com bubble.
  3. The financial crash of 2008.

These were manmade problems. They were routed within us and surely there must have been people who started to see the premonitions and the signs. Maybe they didn’t recognize them for what they were and maybe even now there are intimations all around us if we could but remove our blinkers.

To me Philip K Dick saw the future. Whether or not he recognized his gift what we wrote was remarkably prescient and it lives with us now.

Article written by Mike Holly who is going on a pet friendly holiday sometime in the near future.

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