Friday, November 12, 2010

Space Children

Found a web site deeply evocative of my 1950's Space Kid childhood:

Naive children's non-fiction about the coming glories of space travel. The blog doesn't miss much, but doesn't look deeper. The joys and perils of extrapolating a future like the present, only more so, are much in evidence: the years since have given us fantastic computer power as an essential, dirt cheap consumer good, and stunning advances in biology, but not jet packs, Mars colonies, rotating circular space stations and flying cars. It mentions the International Geophysical Year naively, as an exercise in pure science, omitting its role in obtaining data crucial to the nascent ballistic missile program. There's no environmental consciousness at all; the rhetoric is of 'conquest' of space, which today even amongst the remaining true believers is a nonsensical idea. And, always, the leitmotif of a potential nuclear holocaust.

The vision back then presented to kids was unremittingly positive. Not so much, anymore. The JFK assassination, I think, was a watershed after which hope was mixed or replaced by fear. Another factor, I think still underrated, was the emergence of HIV/AIDS as Reagan legitimized greed and racism. It would have been far more frightening had it not been cast as an affliction solely of an immoral Other, arising from immoral conduct--addicts, gay folk, unlikely accidents. Today, the future is more imagined along 'Blade Runner' lines, or subject to more shadowy, vague apocalypses--increasing criminality resulting in a Mad Max world, fantasies of survivalism, plague, a Frankensteinian environmental dread. I'd hope that, as before, the future won't be what it used to be...


Anonymous said...

At least we're not in Soylent Green/Omega Man territory yet.

Unfortunately, it also appears we will not have a new life on the off-world colonies by 2019[/BladeRunner].

ProfWombat said...

Probably not, for better or worse. But my laptop--bought reconditioned for $200, maybe half what a mediocre stereo cost in 1965 in 1965 dollars--beats the hell out of the old 7094 mainframe even before you hook it to the net. My pocket holds a device that lets me listen to maybe 800 records, or watch maybe 10 movies. We don't chop off breasts for cancer, dump PVCs in the Hudson River or wipe a half inch of soot and grime monthly off city windows, much anymore. Politics and economics are bad now, been bad before, will get better. Beats me where we're going, but our perceptions, I think, lean more toward doom and gloom than they should. And that's a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.