NOT using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA in August 2018 (to which I be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I would jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. But not today. This explanation is reserved for when I dash “off topic”, sometimes reviewing movies, sometimes reviewing books, and other times taking up the spirit of a blog an old friend of mine used to keep called THE RANTING ROOM…
Question: Why do so many people who DON’T read science fiction widely, make the assumption that any Aliens we come into contact with who have starships, no war, unlimited wealth, with a unified, single party government, be ecologically-pre-civilization-static, single-class, benevolent, democratically elected, and all-inclusive civilization?
Do they have evidence that “U-SPG-EPCS-SC-B-DE-AI civilization” is the only way to govern well? (WE are evidence to the contrary. Our governments have always been fractured (check history books); but we use nuclear power, genetic engineering, and we travel in space – all of these achievements are limited and the majority of “doom-sayers” assume that we will destroy ourselves…but despite dire predictions, we haven’t as of this moment. We absolutely have wars, threats, and cruelty…yet seven billion of us persist at this time. Countless others have tantrums about how dumb the “others” are and that unless the entire world embraces their ideal of government, we will continue to be hanging by a thread? Maybe a spider silk thread…)
How did Gene Roddenberry’s dream up the idea of a United Earth and a United Federation of Planets? Except for hippies who were dreaming of yellow submarines and Woodstock, the rest of the world was in shell-shocked horror discovering that the SECOND War To End All Wars hadn’t performed as promised. Things were growing worse. How did Roddenberry get to Star Trek?
That’s easy enough to summarize from the article referenced below: “I really don’t consider myself a science-fiction writer, but I’m interested in what’s happening on this planet and what may happen…Intolerance in the 23rd century? Improbable!...If man survives that long, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures…we couldn’t do a space show without at least one person on board who constantly reminded you that you are out in space and in a world of the future…A science-fiction buff since junior high school, he had the idea for a series that would mix…The Twilight Zone..The Outer Limits with a cast of continuing characters…[a]…space-adventure series [like] “Wagon Train to the Stars,” a nod to the westerns that were still the gold standard in popular TV drama in the 1960s…born in the midst of the turbulent 1960s…it…often reflected and commented on the issues of that divisive decade: the Vietnam War, civil rights, Cold War politics, the budding environmental movement. The show had an idealistic, ’60s counterculture mind-set, imagining a 23rd-century world in which humans had outgrown war and prejudice…[STAR TREK] proved that an outer-space action show could appeal to our intelligence, tackle serious issues—and, in a troubled time, offer some hope for the future.” He certainly didn’t base his enthusiastic hope for humanity on any kind of reality, making the assumption that we would reach a point of evenly distributed wealth and overcome all forms of prejudice to reach the
In the STAR WARS Universe, an Evil Empire has overthrown by an UNQUESTIONABLY Good Republic (it’s “goodness” is an unargued given). But shortly after that happens, the New Republic was once again overthrown by an Imperial copycat of Darth Vader called the First Order which launches its takeover in THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015 – ironically, (hmmm or was it political commentary?) the same year Trump declared his presidential bid). On what basis is the Republic declared “good” and the Empire “bad”?
In Frank Herbert’s DUNE novels, his assumption is that humanity can only avoid the extinction of Humanity by creating an Omniscient God-Emperor to derail a religious High Priesthood of Bene Gesserit and capitalistic Traders. “ We've a three-point civilization: the Imperial Household balanced against the Federated Great Houses of the Landsraad through [CHOAM, the Directors of all wealth], and between them; the Spacers Guild with its damnable monopoly on interstellar transport. Reverend Mother Mohiam.” (Note she omits the hidden rule of the Bene Gesserit.” Paul Atreides (aka Paul Muad’dib institutes “…his Golden Path, [Frank Herbert’s]…argument of how to create a healthy society, avoiding despotism and hero worship, a trap in which social groups can be caught: ‘To make a world where human kind can make its own future from moment to moment, free from one man's vision. Free from the perversion of the [any?] prophet’s words. And free of future pre-determined...’” From universal foundation does Frank Herbert’s declaration of what humanity needs depend? On what foundation of human understanding does he make his postulation?
In TV’s extremely popular series, THE EXPANSE, the UN has seized power from most of the world’s governments because of nearly uncontrollable Climate Change – which they stop. They continue to rule Earth as well as colonies on the Moon, Mars, and in the asteroid belt as well as several other Jovian moons and a very few interstellar colonies until rogue Martian marines form their own government, conquer everyone, and call them all the Laconian Empire…[This is all from the resource below. I read the second book, CALIBAN’S WAR thinking it was the first and while I thought it was a great deal of fun, never went back to read the others. I also read A GAME OF THRONES and while it was also fun, (nowhere near as fun as his Haviland Tuf science fiction stories); I didn’t return to that series, either and never watched a single episode of the TV show…]
There are many futures for Humanity portrayed in science fiction literature. These four are currently best known because they were either visual presentations or MADE into visual presentations. Others await production and the passing of time to test their precepts.
Until then, we’re left with what we have here and now, and what we hope in the future – and our own hands to make it – though there are some who believe that we do not labor alone working for the better future or Humanity on Earth, now. [No, I DON’T mean Aliens Among Us!]
Sources: https://time.com/4406710/star-trek-history-excerpt/, https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Galactic_Empire, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizations_of_the_Dune_universe, https://expanse.fandom.com/wiki/Laconia_system, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muad%27Dib
Image: http://www.blam1.com/StarTrek/images/StarTrekLDMenu.jpg, http://trekcore.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/tc-all-titles.jpg