Lies, damn lies and ‘science fiction’ stories

One of my favourite pub-rant topics is the old ‘look beyond the talking heads’ trope. This is a subject close to my heart in many ways, not least of which being the fact that my mother, an intelligent and sensible woman, is a staunch supporter of the ‘Countryside Alliance’, but refuses to acknowledge the fact that they are funded and controlled by groups who are misusing this support to their own ends, none of which are very pro-countryside in the broader sense. And this morning, I found this little gem on the BBC news website.

The US administration’s resistance to accepting the fact that climate change may be fuelled by human endeavour is no news. But the fact that many of the ‘professional bodies’ decrying the evidence for climate change are funded by Exxon Mobil may well be news to some of us, if not actually surprising. Similar patterns of deceit can be found connected to almost every aspect of global policy in the US and the UK; as nations of people who believe the pundits and braggarts of the electronic nipple with little or no scepticism, we are having the wool pulled thoroughly over our eyes. This is not news to me, but I would like to see more people become aware of the hands within the coloured gloves.

But the more personal angle here is the involvement of feted ‘science fiction’ writer Michael Crichton. Long castigated by the SF community for his deeply technophobic novels (a stance at odds with the futurist notions of the majority of the SF world), his new book is set around the notion of eco-terrorists using weather control systems to wreak havoc on an unsuspecting world and garner support for their ‘crackpot’ end of the world scenarios. This has allegedly led to him becoming a hero-figurehead for the anti-Kyoto lobby, who still desperately yammer that the whole climate-change thing is a big lie cooked up specifically to punish the American people for some perceived infraction. I’m not sure which is more alarming; the fact that people are willing to accept dirty ‘baksheesh’ from oil companies to tell lies to the world that will protect their own precious investments, or the fact that so many people are willing to accept these ideas without checking where they are coming from. But from an SF reader/writer’s point of view, it is immensely distressing to see one of the best-selling authors in the field playing so very obviously for the flat-earth team. SF has long prided itself on looking positively, or at least realistically, at the potential futures our technology may create for us. For Crichton to mix in this kind of kowtowing to the power-hounds is distressing beyond measure, and something that I’m sure the SF community will react to in less than positive terms. I’ve never read a Crichton novel; this news has ensured it is very unlikely that I ever will. Maybe he could drop free copies on recently-devastated locations such as New Orleans, Guatemala and Pakistan? I’m sure the people there will be glad to know that although freak weather has destroyed their homes and livelihoods, it’s all just part of a big conspiracy to make Uncle Sam out to be a bad guy.

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