Thursday, April 4, 2013
4 April 2013
Robert Downey Jr. b. 1965
Hugo Weaving b. 1960
Dan Simmons b. 1948
(won 1990 Hugo for Hyperion)
Another embarrassment of riches in selection for who gets the picture slot. I'll give it to Downey next year, I promise.
The Adjustment Bureau released 2011
April 4, 1984: Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good one of a ship of refugees being bombed somewhere in the Mediterranean. Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat man trying to swim away with a helicopter after him. first you saw him wallowing along in the water like a porpoise, then you saw him through the helicopters gunsights, then he was full of holes and the sea round him turned pink and he sank as suddenly as holes had let in the water. audience shouting with laughter as he sank.
Author: Winston Smith, as written by George Orwell, the first words of his diary in 1984, book published in 1949
Reality: The reality of the next week of posts is very different from earlier entries, because I declare this Orwell Week. 1984 has dates and predictions of events and technology. Very few of them came to pass, but there are still some powerful metaphors that are worth exploring.
The idea for This Day In Science Fiction first came to me in the 1990s. Back then, I thought it might become a one-a-day desk calendar. With no false modesty, I think it's one of the best ideas I ever had. While some people have done things like it, no one has attempted exactly what I want to accomplish with this.
Back then, the Internet was a wobbly little thing, so all my research was done in libraries. I would pull down books from the shelves and just scan for dates, which is fairly easy because a date like 2001 looks like ALL CAPS, and all caps in published fiction is rare. I sifted through Asimov and Bradbury and Clarke and Heinlein and others, the pages flipping past at a pace where I was barely even scanning.
Then I got to 1984.
I found myself stopping and reading. The experience was like night and day compared to the other books. Though I had to read it when I was in school, I decided to read it again.
For me, Orwell is a giant, and not only compared to science fiction writers. I am not alone in this opinion. How many writers' names are now adjectives? Off the top of my head, I can think of Shakespearean, Dickensian, Kafkaesque and Orwellian. There are other great writers of course, but they haven't been turned into adjectives. Thinking of favorite writers from the 20th Century, my short list includes Joseph Conrad, James Thurber and Patrick O'Brian. Is Conradian or Thurberesque a word? My spellchecker says no. My spellchecker did not blink at Shakespearean, Dickensian, Kafkaesque or Orwellian.
And so begins Orwell Week. Instead of quick little jokes or statements of admiration about a successful prediction, I will take ideas from 1984 and write short essays about them.
Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!
We start with the prediction of future technology that Orwell gets right, more or less.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!