Well, today’s another awful day. I’ve seen plenty of people posting their support of the people of Brussels and Belgium and who were there, and our hearts and prayers go out as well.
But as Holly mentioned yesterday, we take the awful stuff in the world today, and step back. Step forward. We look at them through the lens of Science Fiction stories.
And I’m sad to say, Science Fiction stories still see a lot of terrorism in the future. It seems it will remain a way for a smaller force to deal with a larger one, for an occupied force to deal with an occupier. For one dissatisfied person to take out all their frustration and send a message.
For instance, I think that Science Fiction was probably the original home of cyber terrorism. Sure, it became more mainstream, but it was originally near-future nerd stuff. And it still shows up in TV shows and such as far more interesting and useful and powerful than it is in real life… far more Science Fiction.
And if you count some of superhero fiction as Science Fiction, then we certainly see it there too, often in a world somewhat like our own today. Really, a lot of what happens in those stories – especially when you step away from the incredibly super-powered folks – is a story of organized crime and domestic terrorists versus vigilantes. Maybe wider terror groups, working on recruiting, like the League of Assassins or the Hand. We’ve been watching Daredevil season 2 – lots of things you could call terrorism there.
In Science Fiction, you see Utopias. One of the best is Star Trek. And even there, we definitely see terrorism. Khan is the perfect example. However, the Bajorans – fighting a Cardassian occupation – absolutely also are an example, and that’s pretty much the setting for Deep Space Nine. So it’s not like it’s something that’s just a one-shot in an episode, it comes up many times. From re-watching Next Generation, I remember Ro Laren having to infiltrate a terrorist resistance group. It wasn’t easy for her, because you get close to them, and you find out they might be human…
And Science Fiction also tells us a lot about Dystopias… generally the result of a cataclysmic event that leads to a response towards security, and terrorism seems a part. Sometimes before, sometimes after. Like V for Vendetta, where one man’s terrorism exposes a dictatorship and pulls it down.
But the dictatorship, the Dystopia, can form because of terrorism too, it’s not solely an answer. After these sorts of things, we want vengeance. We want justice. We want it to stop. And things happen that, in hindsight or over time, we see to be a bridge too far. And often, this is what Science Fiction writers are warning us about, when they write about Dystopias. Beware those impulses to sacrifice our liberties, to strike out too broadly or too blindly.
In many ways, I hope they’re all wrong. I hope that we find ourselves in a future with peace.