Tag Archives: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Why Science Fiction Today is Important

I know it has been a while since I actually wrote a Science Fiction Today post, but in the current political climate I am reminded why we started writing them in the first place. I am honestly sick of most politics today. We keep congratulating ourselves for throwing more and more money at situations without bothering to take the time to examine why things are happening. One thing I love about doing Science Fiction Today is that we can take a step back and imagine the entire world differently.

Part of what is great about trying to look at things from a science fiction perspective is you are no longer constrained by what the world looks like now. Some of the ideas we present really would not work in today’s world, but who knows where we will be in another 50 or 100 years and what could that mean for the problems that we are currently facing?

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Science Fiction Today – Solutions

This last weekend, we got to listen to a talk by a professor… Well, close enough, without going into details. He made a really good point, about our current American presidential election, which I think applies to American politics as a whole right now – and perhaps to world politics as a whole right now as well.

It’s that the politicians are focusing on the problems of the world now, without offering solutions. And he likened it to 1930’s Germany: they had problems too, like the Treaty of Versailles, the Stock Market Crash and ensuing economic collapse, and the state of the world… social and international. And they, like many other countries at the time, had ideologues and demagogues telling them all about their problems, sympathizing with them and empathizing with them and enhancing their anger. But then, not offering the solutions… and once we saw what the solutions were, well, it was too late and time for war.

Which all pretty well sounds like peoples’ opinions on what’s happening in the presidential race today. Anger. Lots of the problems being brought up – and not a lot of solutions being offered. And some of the ones we are hearing almost sound worse than nothing at all…

I was about to write all of this Monday, and we watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and that totally replaced my plans… but still, it needs said. We have a world full of problems – wars and civil wars, expansionism and posturing. We have places like the UK – with Scotland considering leaving the country, and then the UK considering leaving the EU. It’s like a nesting doll of a problem… The economy. Immigration and refugees. Water and climate and just everything else.

We’ve talked before about the idea of Wicked Problems – where we don’t have the answer of what the solution is, and you basically just have to try it. These sort of problems end up in the ideological, religious, and especially political realm. Where we collectively work on deciding – work on a solution.

But for that, we need options, and if no one is offering them in the political realm, then it’s time to look somewhere else. And for so many of today’s problems, I still say, Science Fiction is a good place to look. Taking an issue, and thinking of it in terms of the future. And then it’s a question of coming up with the vision of what the time between that future and the present looks like.

If there are political problems you’re wrestling with, drop them in the comments below. We’ll brainstorm solutions in the comments, or if big enough, they’ll get their own blog posts. Let’s work on solutions. Not on problems.


I had plans for another blog post tonight. Then we watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. And we had to share.

We try to avoid current politics and many current issues in their current context here on the blog – that’s what our Science Fiction Today posts are for. But this year’s US Presidential election might be something out of a science fiction novel – or perhaps the history books. We have an election going where we might see a Nationalist and a Socialist facing off, which feels frighteningly 1930’s to me.

So take a second look. Maybe a third look. And to help, make Donald Drumpf again. Oh, and this might help:

Julia’s Best of 2015

This is a Comp Geek tradition, but it’s my first year partaking! David and Holly have already done theirs, so now it’s my turn. 2015 went by so fast that I had to Google which movies and video games came out this year because most of the ones I was thinking of came out last year (Interstellar, Dragon Age: Inquisition) and I was incredibly confused…It was a busy, hectic kind of year, but it definitely had some awesome geekness hiding in its folds Continue reading

Science Fiction Today – Surveillance

SSurveillance is an important issue especially in today’s world. A recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
(above if you have 30 minutes) highlights this importance with an interview with Edward Snowden.

Surveillance is a huge part of most science fiction, usually in some form of a dystopia. Part of what surveillance is used for is usually for some form of control. It is often presented as a path towards social good because people can be watched and tracked. This means when crimes are committed that they can figure out who actually did it. At the same time this often means disregarding any concept of privacy.

On one level there is external surveillance, where there is an idea of privacy behind closed doors. Then there is complete surveillance where it might be something injected into each person or installed in every location. Neither option is usually very appealing.

Public Surveillance

When we have surveillance in public the idea is usually to protect the public. It is often not just about being able to see what is going on, but being able to track the path of every citizen. When everything you do in public is potentially being watched how do you react?

There is an idea that if we know we are being watched we will behave better. At the same time in many stories it is not always about knowing that you are being watched, but the people in power watching nonetheless. The difference is simply whether the people in power are spying to try and capture people doing something wrong or if you are trying in some ways to prevent the wrongdoing.

Personal Surveillance

Personal surveillance brings the whole watching game to a completely different level. When suddenly everything a persons does can be on display to be watched so that at any given time someone could be watching. This means that everything you do could be scrutinized, taken out of context, or used against you. There is no way to not incriminate yourself because everything you do can be watched.

On another level what if not only what you do, but your vital signs could be tracked. If there could be a way to know when someone is having a heart attack or to tell when someone is in danger… The problem is again how much do you sacrifice? There is a thought that if at any point someone could see that you are in trouble then help could always be a moment away. At the same time the most private and personal moments would be on display at any given moment.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, and also part of our occasional series on Science Fiction Today. You can read an explanation of both here. We are striving to keep these posts short, and know that we have not covered every example or angle – plenty of room for discussion!