Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Comments Across The Timelines

An author comments as his character speculates. Steve Matuchek, narrator of Operation Chaos and its sequel Operation Luna (New York, 2000), says:

"...think of the persecution of the Jews right up till the last century, and how readily it could revive - say in a strong, modern country that'd lost a major war and proposed to take its grudges out on the whole world, beginning with them. Or maybe a big but backward country, captured by an ideology that claimed human nature itself could be changed, setting out to do this with secret police, concentration camps, mass slaughters... Such things can happen." (p. 265)

Imaginative writers both comment on this our world and create their other worlds. Steve continues:

"Demons with a lunar stronghold, striking out of it with tricks, temptations, lies, illusions, disruptions, despair, to set man against man, could make them happen." (p. 265)

So readers simultaneously appreciate both social commentary and apocalyptic fantasy.

Operation Chaos began with absurdities like the magical medical practice of staring at germs through a microscope with the Evil Eye! But such entertaining absurdities do not prevent the same series from later addressing serious issues.

To Steve's hypothetical cases, we could add two more:

a big but backward country where an attempt to change social relationships had been defeated, leaving in power a self-serving bureaucracy whose industrial/military competition against more advanced countries compelled it to suppress and exploit its own population with secret police etc justified by an ideology about changing human nature;

a strong, modern country supporting dictatorships and threatening or waging wars in order to protect its own economic interests and access to sources of fuel.

1 comment:

Paul Shackley said...

Steve's examples are Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. Mine are the latter and any imperialist power. Since an imperialist war led to the Russian Revolution and the Wiemar Republic, the examples cohere. Since we must eat before we can think, I argue that the Stalinist bureaucracy was primarily motivated by collective self-interest and economic survival, not by ideology.