Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Whom the Gods Love, by Sarah A. Hoyt
Perhaps it's only in the nature of young teens to really, passionately long for the things in science fiction to become real. I wanted a burner SO BAD when I was raking leaves (age 12), so bad I could taste it. And I remember saying at the dinner table, at around the same age, "We've GOT to solve the mystery of anti-gravity!" Some of that lingered on until my freshman year of college, which was when I first read "Stranger in A Strange Land," but a year later it was gone. I read "Starship Troopers" for the first time while I was in my Army medic training at Ft. Sam, and I remember thinking how cool it would be to be a part of the Mobile Infantry, but I didn't crave it the way I had, even the year before. As I think about that, it makes me realize that for me at least, the first year of college was just an extension of childhood. I don't know if that's true in every case, but for me, at age 18 in 1971, it was true.
I still love science fiction. But now when I read it, I've got a critic somewhere in the process that keeps me grounded. I read a story on the meat grown in vats, and I think "Nope, not gonna happen," because I've read the story of the chicken heart, and it ain't real. If I think about it, I notice that there are no bathrooms on the Millennium Falcon. And it really doesn't hurt the story.
But here's the thing: I think that there may be a really nice reason why some of the high tech techniques are NEVER going to come about, and that's because if they did, we do vicious, arrogant, cruel things with the technology that this story describes. I love technology, would be dead without it, in fact, and it is making the balance of my life pleasant, stimulating, and long, rather than nasty, brutish, and short.
But you just KNOW that if the technology of cloning humans, becoming a part of a virtual net, and the other techs described in this novella were available, there would absolutely be someone who would screw it up, and use it to torture humans for their pleasure.
It's a cautionary tale, I suppose, but it's still a good story.