Science fiction survey

Science fiction survey

Books Recent publications of the Centre for Environmental Studies, London WP 38, Forecasting Wilson. (4s) ‘filanning’. SCIENCE A. G. WP-45. Soci...

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Books

Recent publications of the Centre for Environmental Studies, London WP 38, Forecasting Wilson. (4s)

‘filanning’.

SCIENCE

A.

G.

WP-45. Societal determinants of urban form-some thoughts on the city in the year 2000. Ortrude White. (3s) This paper was written for an interdisciplinary conference on “The City and the Year 2000” sponsored by the Institution for Mechanical Engineers in September 1969. (See Futures, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp 79-80). It is an exploration of the role of urban planning over the next thirty years with particular emphasis on the integration of social and economic policy-making with design. It looks at some of the social, economic and technical changes which will probably form the context for future development and then at some of the means which planners have for maximising the potential of the opportunities created by these changes. It shows how new techniques in planning may help reconcile specialised expertise with public participation in planning decisions.

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1870

SURVEY

DENNIS LIVINGSTON

This paper is concerned with predicting the futureof ‘planning’ itselfin order to point out issues related to this future which need to be given attention. In the second part of the paper a study is made of developing capabilities in planning, making separate reference to analytic, design and policy making capabilities. This part concludes with a portrait of a future planning team which is assumed to have these capabilities. Part three begins with a rudimentary analysis of current institutional frameworks in planning. A number of issues associated with the future development of planning are then elaborated. Finally a number of possible developments are considered arising out of developing planning capability on the one hand and pressures on institutional frameworks arising from the issues cited on the other.

FUTURES

FICTION

Erwin S. Strauss, compiler, SF Magazines, 1951-1965. pages. $8.

Index to the 1966. 207

Anthony R. Lewis, compiler, 1966, 1967, and 1968 Supplements. 1969. 17 pages each. $1 each. New England Science Fiction Association (Box G, MIT Branch Station, Cambridge, Mass. 02139 USA) Keith Roberts. 95c. Ace

Pavane. 1969. 285 pages.

Harry Harrison, ed. The Year 2000: An Anthology. 1970. 288 pages. $4.95. Doubleday One of the factors inhibiting the full use of science fiction in futures research has been the lack of even the most elementary bibliographic tools. Several indexes to the literature have been put out in the past by dedicated fans, but these are not easily obtainable. Thus we are doubly indebted to a group of enthusiasts clustered around MIT for producing an easily accessible and upto-date index of science fiction magazine literature. This compilation and its annual successors provide details obtained from English-language magazines that publish primarily original science fiction or science fantasy. The magazine list contains the stories appearing in each issue, while story information includes such data as title, page number within the magazine, the type of story, and date of the magazine. In short, this series is an invaluable tool for researchers needing to know the location of magazine stories and the output of authors, or indeed for those interested in such raw sociological data as the rise and fall of various magazines and the changes in science fiction titles over the years. Keith Robert’s novel appeared first in the British science fiction magazine Impulse. It is an example of one of the

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standard types in the field, the “what if” tale-in this case, what if Queen Elizabeth I had been assassinated in 1588, with the subsequent defeat of England by the Spanish Armada? The answer here is a twentieth century in which the Catholic Church rules supreme over half the world, holding tight the forces of technological progress. The story is marvelous for its absolute credibility. But the deeper value of this book, apart from its absorbing entertainment, is the fundamental questions implicitly raised regarding the desirability of holding back the onslaught of technology to give man time to catch up with his moral ability to regulate the use of technology. For this is the grand mission taken on by the Church, using its temporal powers to set maximum railroad speeds, control cement manufacture, and limit internal combustion engines to 150 cc capacity; in the end, the forces of change cannot be checked -Anglicanism revives as a mass political movement-and the Church willingly releases its proscriptions on progress, confident that man has become ready to use the most modern devices. The author argues that the wait could be worth it, even though the waiting includes the continuance of the Inquisition and widespread poverty. On the other hand, this world has apparently escaped concentration camps and nuclearwar. It is a difficult choice. It seems problematical that even an all-powerful Church could be so successful in a post-Renaissance era, in maintaining a guild-class system in the face of such limited but important technological advance as it allows, and why it should be so enlightened as to give up the game when its time has logically ended. Still, the issue raised is valid and worth confronting in this extreme form, and is not irrelevant to our own time, in which we are grappling with the problems of subjecting technology to man’s direction. Harry Harrison has based his new book on the fascinating idea of asking a

group of science fiction authors to write original short stories whose only prerequisite was that the plots occur in the year 2000. The editor accurately points out the educative role such tales can have-they give one a feel for the future by describing its quality of life, and they present alternative futures for the public to consider. On this level, the book will probably succeed in jogging the minds of people who have never contemplated that the future will be different, perhaps horribly so. However, none of the stories contain any particular projection, social or technological, not already familiar in futures and science fiction literature. Thus the value of the book for the futures researcher will be a compilation of what some contemporary, popular science fiction authors themselves feel could be the major public policy issues of the year 2000. In this regard, it is significant that most of the stories have pessimistic overtones-the view from the present is that we will not be in for an easy time. Open for us are such possibilities as famine (restricted to India, in one story, global, in another) ; an America which has cleaned up its environment, only to be involved in an endless series of small wars against the communists; a global radio-active accident that affects the gene pool; a population control law that condemns illegal fetuses; a strangely sinister Great Britain in which personal violence has become the way of life; the complete polarisation of black and white in America (leading to the peaceful takeover of cities by the blacks in one story, and outright race war in another) ; and, at the other end of the scale, a technocratic utopia that is so perfect that humanity is in danger of decaying through having no challenges left. My own favourite in the book is Chad “Far from this Earth”, a Oliver’s poignant, simple story that describes the true ugliness of industrial civilisationits homoginisation and brutilisation of all cultures, even in as diverse a land as Africa.

FUTURES

June

1870