A Post Dealing With Alternative Futures, NOT Alternative Facts, Thank You…
“Time has branded them, and fettered they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted. But can those have been possible seeing that they never were? Or was that only possible which came to pass? Weave, weaver of the wind” – Stephen Dedalus (Ulysses).
“I have been trying to reconstruct the state of my brain as it was about 1878… or 1879? …I find it impossible to disentangle…” HG Wells pondered, struggling – in his 77th year – to recall the scintillating ingredients that helped create his enduring classic: The Time Machine (1895 is the annus you were looking for, Bertie, ol’ boy). Brad has tried just to maintain the state of his brain over this past fortnight alone. Impossible to disentangle…? Uff, tell me about it…
Honestly, since the last Post, drafts discussing movies, comics, books and other SF-related gubbins have been given the Brad treatment – there seems to be no shortage of ideas, but the knack of compiling this stuff into a coherent and readable format eludes me for the mo.
Yes, perhaps contemplating the alternatives to Publish triggered the spark that culminated in this investigative piece. Imagine: if this writer was on top form, you would have had one (or two!) more different – probably more awesome! – subject(s) to digest, on some day last week. As well! It’s amazing how such minor decisions can trigger major alterations in our everyday lives; not so much travel in time, but these little tweaks that make subtle changes to the course of individual (or collected) destiny are known as time dilutation, or Zeitdilatation as Einstein called it. The literary genre concentrating on counterfactual narratives called Alternative History has thrived as a fluctuating fixture of SF for as long as writers have been fascinated by the endless possibilities that Kismet and/or Karma can conjure…
And lo, Brad goes boldly forwards (or backwards…?) into another (hopefully) constructive and erudite composition. Like the protagonist of Wells’ classic template for all (subsequent?) time travel tales concedes:
“So with a kind of madness growing upon me, I flung myself into futurity.”
“When [The Man In The High Castle] came out, there was a smell of gunpowder in it, the whiff of revolution… Sometimes awkward, sometimes obscure, thoroughly unpredictable… yet ultimately controlled and driven by rational, moral purpose” – Ursula K. Le Guin.
Surely a modern classic of counterfactual narratives is The Man In The High Castle by Philip K. Dick – a Hugo award-winning novel published in 1962 exploring the scenario in which the Axis Powers, hawing won the the Second World War, occupy America. It has been developed into a successful TV series – its second season premiered in December, while a third has already been commissioned.
Mystery, intrigue – and death – surrounds a film reel – entitled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy – allegedly containing news images depicting an alternate history in which the Allies WON the Second World War; it forms part of a series of footage sought by an unknown collector known only as – hey! – The Man In The High Castle.
Having searched in vain for this book for ages, the success of the TV series should push it prominently back into all main book stockists!
“I travelled far and wide through many different times
What did you see there?
I saw the saints with their toys
What did you see there?
I saw all knowledge destroyed
I travelled far and wide through many different times…” – Ian Curtis.
Yes! For once you get a TV review on this site.
Following hot on The Man In The High Castle’s alternate heels is the BBC dramatization of Len Deighton’s 1978 thriller: SS-GB, based on the (downright preposterous of course!) premise that Britain fell to the Nazis in 1941. A police detective (played by Sam Riley who played Ian Curtis in Anton Corbijn’s biopic: Control) investigates a murder of someone crucial to the development of the Nazi atomic bomb…
The first part (of five) of SS-GB got off to a gripping start with an assassination on Pall Mall – the processionary route leading up to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, events took a turn for the adverse; a slow, frightfully DULL and gloomy montage of shadowy figures in trenchcoats and fedoras mumbling incomprehensibly amongst themselves. Dark times, indeed! No really, there was absolutely NO lighting, so in lieu of a decent script, we were unable to detect the actors’ subtle nuances and suchlike. The second episode did little to revive my interest, or twitch on that blasted light switch!
When the third episode came around, the episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring Ghost Rider – one of my childhood faves – aired on a different channel at the same time. So my choice of alternate – ha! – viewing was made instead. Again! No change left in Marvel’s whoppin-great budget to spend on any heavy-duty lighting! Good job the Spirit of Vengeance’s head is on fire, or nothing would be visible (can you believe he’s actually typing this?!)
With the disappointment of SS-GB, it’s not so much a case of: “what if?” but “so what?”
Can’t help but think what dear ol’ Bertie would have made of it all…
Ponder for a moment one particular counterfactual route: Brad DID run for election.
The glorious Bradtopia that would eventually flourish offers – as you would expect – a wonderful society. What will you have? Well, everything you could possibly want.
And nothing to fear.
Why, there is freedom and frizbees for everyone! All books, comics, chips and university places are FREE; you can find Mexican, Thai and Korean snack shacks on every street; and the US President will be popping round this evening for tea – oh yes, she will be bringing her own cake…