Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, February 17, 2017

Futuristic fiction that offers you present day food for thought

Truth is getting stranger than fiction lately, as we nearly have daily proof of. While I don't believe in "alternative facts", I do believe that reading about alternative realities can help us figure out how to deal with the rapidly changing circumstances of our times.

For one, time travel sounds like the perfect solution yet as the leading man of Elan Mastai's new novel All Our Wrongs Todays discovers, things like that never work out as smoothly as you want them to. Tom Barren comes from a version of 2016 where flying cars,robot maids and other marvels have made the world a better place to be.

Yet, he finds himself dissatisfied in life and love, so when he gets the chance to make an unauthorized time trip back to a very pivotal day, Tom takes it and accidentally causes that reality to be undone, leaving himself and the rest of us in the world we all share now.

 Even though his personal set of circumstances are somewhat improved, Tom is determined to reset the time line which only makes everything get even odder than before. This smart engaging story sounds like a grand read and a good lesson in learning to make do what you have before you:

For those still trying to figure out how we got to this point, the works of Octavia E. Butler seem to be ringing a few bells of clarity.

Particularly her Earthseed novels, which begins with Parable of the Sower that has  Lauren Olamina had fled her formerly enclosed community due to it being destroyed by wild folks addicted to setting fires.

 During her travels to find a new way of living in a world ravaged by environmental problems and social disarray, Lauren carries the hope of a new faith that could unite people into creating a brighter tomorrow for all.

Unfortunately, that faith is severely tested in the follow-up book,Parable of the Talents, as a newly elected president of the country demands a wipe out of any other religion than his own.

 Lauren's new society is attacked, it's residents brutalized and their children taken away in order to save them from being raised in "heathen" households. Such direct assaults are hard to handle, even if you're not suffering from hyper-empathy as Lauren does, yet she does find the strength to go on and reclaim her life and those of her friends.

Octavia Butler was an amazing writer who explored the impact of race and gender inequality in her work and was considered one of the finest in her field during her lifetime. Despite her passing away several years ago, it feels as if her voice is growing stronger with every new reader that takes up her books for solace and inspiration:

There are many people who think that if they had direct knowledge of what the future holds, their choices to prevent upcoming disasters would be easy ones to make. Well, they ought to read Stephen King's modern classic The Dead Zone and perhaps think again.

As Johnny Smith realizes that his reward for coming out of a lengthy coma are visions of what is to come(along with the true nature of the people around him), he does try to use these new psychic powers for good. However, the outcome of even those well intended interventions can bring about as much pain and suffering as if he had no advance warning of them at all.

His ultimate decision arrives with the handshake of an up and coming politician, whose future reign as president promises a true doomsday. While no one should make such a drastic move to alter the course of events, this iconic novel proves that being forewarned and being forearmed is not the same thing:

When all is said and done, I can honestly say that one of the few positive things that I see going on right is a return to reading. Whether your motives are for gaining knowledge, expanding your cultural horizons or just some much needed stress relief, picking up a book is the best way to tackle any obstacles up ahead and that is what will make for a more meaningful future for us all:

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