Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More evidence of the importance of science fiction

By Nancy Jane Moore

Every year the In This Moment staff decamps to WisCon to look at the world from a science fiction point of view. We are strong believers in the relevance of science fiction to understanding how things actually operate, as I've said before.

I note with pride that we are not alone: Juan Cole has an excellent article on Salon on the relevance of a science fiction TV show: "Heroes."

According to Cole, the show "functions as a thoughtful critique of Vice President Dick Cheney's doctrine on counterterrorism." He goes on to observe:

The powers of the heroes and their unpredictable consequences function as an allegory for the asymmetric threats generated by contemporary technology. They reflect the anxieties of an era when Timothy McVeigh can use some farm fertilizer to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, when Internet hackers threaten to open the sluices of the Hoover Dam, when the cultists of Aum Shinrikyo can poison hundreds on the Tokyo subway with homemade sarin gas, and when a handful of expatriate Arab engineers based in Germany can turn jetliners into flying bombs. Technology is advancing with such rapidity that it is making each individual far more powerful than in the past and bestowing on each individual new capacities that surely not all will deal with responsibly. This passing of a technological threshold, in which a handful of terrorists with a suitcase bomb could potentially destroy a city, will be a particular burden for younger Americans, the kind who prefer "Heroes" to "24," since it will help define the future.

Warning to "Heroes" fans who haven't yet watched the season finale, which aired last week: Cole's article contains some spoilers.

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