Science Fiction and Empire on Environmentalism

Topics: Science fiction, Human, Natural environment Pages: 6 (2320 words) Published: May 2, 2011
One of the main aspects of science fiction that sets it apart of almost all other genres is its ability to influence the direction of humankind. By stimulating a reader’s thoughts of the possibility of different futures, not only does science fiction serve as a popular source of entertainment, but it also encourages one to analyze the possible prospective effects of the generation’s powerholders’ and their decisions. As a science fiction writer himself, Isaac Asimov once said, “Intelligent science fiction writers attempt to look at world trends in science and technology for plot inspiration and, in doing so, they sometimes get a glimpse of things that later turn out to be near the truth” (Asimov, page 79). Through the use of empires as the powerhouses of society, SF books like War of the Worlds and Foundation dig deep into the question of what would happen if societies continued to allow the progression of destructive and commercial technologies. Frank Herbert’s, Dune, also questions the future of the universe while shining a spotlight on the clash between humanity and the environment. By providing a glimpse of the future as a product of current technological change, science fiction helps an audience examine which way they want to shape the progression of human kind, and therefore provides a unique service to the world. Since the beginning of time, the purpose of technology has been to enable one to do something that otherwise would be impossible. Technology is an incredibly powerful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. Serving as a symbol of power, positive technological development will generally distinguish a good empire from an evil one, in both the real world and the world of science fiction. In the novel The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, a Martian invasion leaves a previously invincible British Empire in ruins. The aliens violently expressive a total disregard for human life and the environment of earth. Weapons, called Heat-Rays are used against the humans and completely destroy everything in their way. These laser guns were a good prediction of future military technologies, resembling those of mass destruction known today. The book’s use of mass destruction of both the human race and the environment draws attention to our own planet’s possible future if nuclear weapons were ever to be placed in the hands of enemies with merciless hostility. Perhaps one of the most famous SF writers of all time, Isaac Asimov has also expressed his distaste for destructive technologies. “The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world. Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others. There must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike” (Asimov, page 5). However, his book, Foundation, serves as an interesting contrast to the imperialistic warfare from The War of the Worlds. Focusing on a trend that the ideal progression of civilization may one day reach, this book introduces a pacifistic society in which violence is considered the last refuge of the incompetent. However, the environments depicted in Foundation are inconsistent with Herbert’s conception that a peaceful universe will also be rich in ecology. Given that violence was spoken as a thing of the past, and taking into consideration the environment of planets like Trantor consisted of civilization under a steel dome, this may further imply that violence and mass destruction have already taken their toll on universe of that time. This may suggest that total destruction of nature, by evil technologies, was what finally convinced humanity to become a pacifistic universe. Asimov’s use of ecology as a sacrifice made in order for peace among mankind questions if future pacifism will be possible...
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