Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking back from 2109

The discussion takes place in a chatroom officially sanctioned by the Gunhuaguo, I imagine it will pretty much follow the Party line.

Back in 2009, there were still wars being fought on Earth itself, in fact, Earth was all there was. This was before the Mars Colony, before Titan, even before the moon was colonised. There was concern in those days that a "failed state" or a terrorist group might get its hands on nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. That was before the sixth Pakistan-India war, of course, when the Indians showed uncontrovertibly that but for its "shock and awe" value, a nuclear weapon was useless as a weapon of war. Remember how the "New Thugs" went through the Red Zone in Kashmir to take Pakistan by surprise?

The people in 2009 were terrified about so much and so much of it was needless. They worried about Terrorism, Islamification, Disease, Famine, Overpopulation never realising that the truly implacable enemy was apathy.

Look at the fall of the United States. It didn't come directly from any of the perceived threats much touted in the American media at the time. Even the Gunhuaguo waited until the state had fallen before intervening. No, instead, like Prince Prospero in Po's "Masque of the Red Death", they tried to protect themselves from the forces at large in the world by removing more and more of the liberties their citizens enjoyed to the point where the country simply ceased to be democratic (and then it was an easy matter for the Gunhuaguo, through rational argument to subsume the Republic into the Benevolent Global Hegemony of Zhonghua.)

But enough of politics. You all know the stories. What of technology, what of recreation, what of humanity itself?We've mentioned Mars, Titan and the Moon, buto those colonies are the results of 20th century thinking. Under the benevolent guidance of the Son of Heaven, Mankind is now looking further, beyond the solar system. We know of at least forty habitable planets of other stars, true it will take a lifetime to reach one of them, but the Gunhuaguo has lifetimes and the first generation starships are already being built in the Belt, and shipped to O'Neill station for assembly. Then there are the undersea and Antarctic habitats. The beginnings of global climate control, the emergence of nano-technology, so loudly heralded in the twentieth century, but only now coming to fruition.

And of course, there are the remaining vestiges of democracy, the only form in which it was popular, voting on reality shows like the X-factor and You Bet Your Life.

In music, who remembers rock music? House? Reggae? Of course not, these are all obscure. Do you know in 2009 few people even knew what a Bassoon was, let alone a Saz or a Zhonghu, for popular music was still in the age of the electric guitar and the synthesizer.

And what of humanity itself...? There were artificial hearts of course, but in 2009 there were no cyborgs in the world. There were not even shaped people - everyone and we mean everyone, was born with the genes they inherited randomly from their parents. Can you imagine that, a world in which you could have been born stupid or ugly, or suffering from dread diseases such as albinism?

We've come a long way in the last 100 years and it's hard even to imagine what the next hundred years will bring.


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