Mild Meld at SFSignal!
Posted July 3, 2013on:
I heard this cold war era joke all the time when I was a kid:
Under a totalitarian government, a man is able to smuggle his wife out of the country. He promises to write her a letter every week. He knows the government reads everyone’s mail, so he tells her if the letter is written in black ink, everything is the truth, if the letter is written in red ink, everything is a lie. The weeks progress, and she receives letters in black ink telling her how much he loves her, and discussing the weather, and letters in red ink talking about how wonderful the government is and that he never wants to leave. until one fateful letter arrives in black in:
My beloved wife: My life here is complete, the government sees to my every need and is taking such good care of me that I can not imagine why anyone would ever want to live somewhere else. Therefore I will not be joining you in your new home. By the way, we have run out of red pens.
I recently had the honor of being on a MindMeld panel at SFSignal, along with Nick Mamatas, Ian Sales, Bob Reiss, and John Stevens, among others. Here’s what we were asked:
Recent events have caused the resurgence of George Orwell’s classic 1984. Ever since its original publication, however, genre has tackled and wrestled with the themes of dictatorship, totalitarianism, total war, and more. What works of genre since are worthy of exploring these themes?
the responses were kicked around twitter a bit this morning, with discussions touching on dystopian war books, and that not all war book are dystopian, and not all dystopian is totalitarian, etc. It’s complicated and fascinating.
Let’s keep the conversation going: tell me about some fictional works you’ve enjoyed that deal with surveillance societies, dictatorship, totalitarian governments, and such. No one wants to live that way, so why do we so enjoy reading books with those themes? Have we moved so far past George Orwell’s 1984 that we need to start referring to other works as “Orwellian”, or “somebody-else-ian””
All old jokes aside, with all the NSA stuff that’s come out recently do you see the post office suddenly getting much more popular? I do.