Society transforming

As we are at the end of a year I find it appropriate to think about age and ageing. In many ways this leads to thinking about work, as of being part of the work force.

As we in the western hemisphere tends to get older and older we’re also supposed to keep on working. As the number of jobs actually available don’t increase this means a lot of young/er people not getting a foot in. The consequence of this is a lot of people not seeing themselves to have a future inside the established economy.

How will that affect our society?

(Not mentioning the fact that a lot of people don’t want to go on working – a lot of us would like to be able to work less, thankyouverymuch, if it wasn’t for the need to pay our bills and for the simple fact money buys things we want.)

(Not mentioning the fact, either, that growing older and older is not necessarily a good thing – those of us not going with cancer are doomed to a life of slowly failing bodies, at the mercy of relatives and the community. A prolonged pain, for certain.)

Regenesis. Or – should it be “RE: Genesis”?

Fast forward a couple of hundred years or four. Civilization in space consists of hundreds of thousands of space born humans, scattered about at space stations and space ships – stationers and spacers. But these stationers and spacers are only subsets in a larger cultural rift – that between a basic market economy, however tightly controlled by the big movers, in the form of the Merchanter Alliance and that of the radically positivist culture of Union, formed by dissident and renegade scientists.

In most of the books set in the Alliance-Union Universe Union are depicted as elitist and conformistic. We learn that they breed genetically and psychologically engineered humans, born in birthlabs. We learn that they program people so that some become free humans and some of them become what we would call slaves, or at least servants.
And we learn that they are all the same, and evil.
Much like the how the western world viewed the Soviet union, in fact.

For a long time the book Cyteen was the only one to give us a glimpse behind the scenes in Union, and while most of us felt revulsion at the basic premise of this society we were none the less shown that there lived people of all sorts, and with a wide range of ideas and opinions. We also gets to understand that this lesser breed of humans – azi, in the language of this universe – is, YES, basically humans, too.
The back story is one of power play, politics, and a murder, but the premise is this rational and positivist culture driven and ruled by scientists and the true theme is the exploration of what a rational mind can do, under the ‘right’ circumstances.

Since the end of December 2008/beginning of January 2009 this story is continued in Regenesis. It takes up the threads left dangling back in the late 80’s, when the first story was published, and continues to reveal new takes on the old issues while at the same time elaborating on the ideas of social and psychological engineering.

I think one of Cherryh’s greater strengths as an author (obviously not counting her abilities at words and pacing) is her ability to discuss difficult issues while at the same time creating believable characters – to show how big scale politics affects the reality of the individual, through the eyes of the individual. This way we get to see that Enemy is just a label and that yes, They is just like Us – just trying to survive, making the best of their situation with what means they have.

This should not be controversial. But in this time it might well be a very lonely voice in a choir screaming hate, at the top of their lungs.

We are not the first…

Consider Newgrange.

Consider the Egyptian pyramids, or the Mesoamerican ones.

Consider the plumbing of ancient Rome, or the engineering of the Andalusian Moors. And a lot of more peoples, just like them.
Throughout the ages.

Each of them presumably thought of themselves as the height of civilisation. Just as we do.

How far ahead of them are we, in reality?

Should a single nation foot the bill for research in a propulsion technology that can take us to the stars?

And – when we get there. Will we have changed? Or will we still be bickering narrow minded humans thinking ourselves superior to all and everyone, including ourselves?

At the moment, I’m not very hopeful.

Knowledge – information off on lost tangents, found

Knowledge. What is it?

Information, opinions, ideas. DIFFERENT information, opinions, ideas that gets mixed in a pot, stirred a bit, and then comes out either edible or not. Whichever way the PROCESS hopefully led to something valuable. And that, IMHO, is knowledge, in and of itself.

Knowledge is not knowing when the battle of Hastings was fought. 1066 is just a year, and the name is a tag, a piece of information. Understanding WHY, and in which context… then we are approaching knowledge – something that can be understood and used and extrapolated.

The way I see it.

To make the information into knowledge you need to not be alone. You need diversity, you need opinions to clash, to meet resistance so to being able to find new and more sustainable ways.

I wonder – will diversity survive in this ultra-libertarian society we are building, where only the strongest survive, devouring it’s lesser brethren?

I wonder – will humanity survive when diversity slips us?

Reading Cyteen and Regenesis (by author C. J. Cherryh) makes the brain tick, adding aspects to issues not even under consideration in those two books.

This is not a review. It’s a recommendation.
I dare you.

Not having anyone to talk to

Being interested in genre literature is a solitary occupation. At least if you’re into science fiction and fantasy, lives in Sweden, and don’t generally like the fan scene. And especially so if you’re grown up.

SF? When are you going to grow up and read REAL literature???

Do ANY of your books relate to the real here and now???

All heard more than once, I promise you.

Luckily, thanks to a colleague, I found LibraryThing. There I found a motley selection of people and lots of lots of good suggestions for books to read.
I count myself lucky.

But a lot of things don’t fit in a discussion. A lot of my thinking is made through the keyboard. Seeing the sentences take form is a way to define opinions and thoughts, to make them solid. The making of knowledge is not a solitary process. Therefore I make this blog open to anyone, if, by chance, someone else would like to share in on my thoughts.

Where this will go is an open question.

Just the way I like.