Two nights ago, I had a conversation with a friend about the other response to impending doom: folks stockpiling food - not just for a month or a year, but for many years. They envision an utter collapse, a semi-permanent loss of infrastructure. And they're buying guns. That's nothing new, but they may be gaining in numbers, although I'm hesitant to take a poll. I'm afraid of the results.
I'm reminded of the Twilight Zone episode "The Shelter". The family with the only bomb shelter on the block is assailed by previously friendly neighbors when the nuclear threat turns real and immediate.
Personally, I'd rather work on community solutions, not "us and them" or "every (hu)man for himself" ones. The folks in San Diego had the right idea. I'm not sure where the Occupy Wall Street movement will lead, but I see people identifying with each other across a multitude of demographics. Pulling together for a solution for us all. I hope they find one that can then be implemented. Corporate greed and political ambitions have made such a huge mess of things, it's hard to know where to start. I'm glad that doesn't stop them trying.
Then I had a conversation with someone last night about how hard it is for humans occupying this planet at this time to envision a different way to live. We only know what we know. He wants to help start the discussion about a better way. Ways we haven't considered. And where is he looking? To science fiction authors, of course.
But even for us, it's a challenge. As I told him, "How do you write alien thought? Or a truly alien alien?" It's very hard and few of us can pull it off. Extrapolating our present into a better future with a healthier planet, people who solve problems together and politics that work can be just as hard. When I thought about examples for him, I kept coming up with examples from current science fiction of how we make it worse, not better. I find it easier to write tragedy. Somehow, the happy endings just seem too implausible. Perhaps I'm not alone.
Identifying the problems and seeing where they're leading is easy. Finding the different path that no one is seeing is the challenge.
I invite my readers to help me come up with examples of plausible, near-future utopias from current works of science fiction - or at least ones plausible to an open mind. Post a comment with your favorites.
Now if only we knew how to open minds…