Visionaries from other worlds

Imagine scenarios beyond our spatio-temporal reach, unless we were replicants and could see things that others would not believe -Philip K. Dick considered himself “a pawn of God, a variable reprogrammed in one of those insidious changes in reality that make up the plot of the Universe »- has always been a temptation for the human being. Science fiction literature has provided quite a few masterpieces, the enumeration of which would not fit here. In the middle of the catastrophe we have been provided, in some way, with that desire: we live in the future, at the cost of (almost) killing fiction. Whoever writes about these days will make a historical novel, not a fantastic one. But these authors did fantasize.

There are critics who consider
 (1516), by Tomás Moro, as the first science fiction story in History, for its description of an artificially constructed island whose idealized, peaceful, egalitarian, far-sighted society, without private property, is based on the philosophical and political ideals of the classical world and Christianity. Some leaders today would like music … if it were not for that community also being patriarchal. But it was not until the end of the 19th century when the genre acquired a letter of nature with Jules Verne and his three visionary novels:
Journey to the Center of the Earth
From the Earth to the moon
 (1865) and
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
 (1870), which had an enormous influence on later authors. That paternity is shared by H. G. Wells, author of
The time Machine
The invisible man
 (1897) and
War of the Worlds
(1898), which first describes an alien invasion of Earth. The debt that audiovisual culture owes to these writers is well known.


A happy world
 (1932), by Aldous Huxley, connects in some way with that island of Thomas More, although the society proposed by the British writer is more disturbing: there is no war or poverty, but neither cultural diversity, philosophy nor love, and children learn by hypnopedia (through sleep), humanity is organized into castes where each one knows (and accepts) his place in the gear and the penalties are cured by consuming a drug called soma. A step further is found
 (1949), by George Orwell, an essential work of dystopian fiction. With your reading it is impossible not to feel concerned by the atrociously repressive mechanism that Winston Smith suffers, watched by the cathode eye (Big Brother), terrified by room 101 of the Ministry of Love, where they torture you not to quell an act of rebellion, but so that your repentance is sincere. The year 1984 is behind us. Along the way the Wall fell and the Soviet building collapsed, but totalitarian nationalisms and populisms gained momentum. The fake news are but replicas of the slogans of the Single Party (“War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Force”). 1984 is the dystopia that we can still fear. We close this section with two essential titles by Philip K. Dick: The Man in the Castle (1962), whose plot takes place in the United States fifteen years after the Axis forces defeated the allies in World War II, and
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
 (1968), which gave rise to the film Blade Runner.

The term space opera emerged as a mockery. It was the writer Wilson Tucker who first used it in 1941 to criticize the science fiction booklet of his time, which he compared to soap operas, radio or television serials that are very popular with housewives and young Americans. Ray Bradbury brought space travel to adulthood with
Martian Chronicles
 (1950), where he traces in a more poetic than technological tone the colonization of Mars by humans.
 (1977), by Frederik Pohl, describes an intergalactic gold rush that ends with the discovery of wonders … and also of horrors. It is the only novel that has obtained the highest awards in the genre: Hugo, Nebula, John W. Campbell and Locus. Two more classics:
 (1965), by Frank Herbert, also multi-awarded, where the author makes us travel 10,000 years in the future to a galactic empire with a feudal structure; and
2001: A Space Odyssey
 (1968), by Arthur C. Clarke, where the starring role of the Orwellian-looking supercomputer HAL 9000 – which decides to eliminate astronauts, whom he considers to be failed mechanisms that hinder the mission – leads us to the last chapter.


HAL 9000 breached the famous laws (“A robot must not harm a human being or, by inaction, let a human being suffer damage”, etc.), collected by Isaac Asimov in
I robot
(1950), a moral compendium for intelligent androids where paradoxes are raised that inquire about the situation of man in the technological universe. Czech writer Karel Capek was the first to use the term robot to define an automaton in his play.
 R.U.R. Rossum Universal Robots
 (1920). From the golem (being made from inanimate matter, such as clay or clay) that inspired Capek to the cyberpunk of
 (1984) by William Gibson, in his “console jeans” with implanted electrodes, artificial intelligence has inhabited our dreams and nightmares. .

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