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Big Brother and Precrime: The Growing Similarities Between Science Fiction and America
Once denied its literary and cinematic value in the minds of many, science fiction is slowly but surely gaining recognition and popularity. To most, the term science fiction used to recall images of bulky robots and, more recently, bad CGI spaceships. But as the genre has evolved to include less traditional works that do not necessarily include aliens and UFOs, more people find that they can relate, and are discovering stories that appeal to them. Part of this shift is due to the growing similarities between science fiction and reality. America in particular is undergoing massive technological and political changes. Americans are now finding that military, social, and even post-apocalyptic science fiction each include aspects that hit a little too close to home, although this quality only increases their popularity. As similarities between science fiction and reality become more pronounced through politics, advances in technology and the application of technology in new ways, America is finding science fiction more appealing, leading to an increase in the popularity of the genre.
One of the main reasons that parallels between reality and science fiction are becoming more apparent is the rapid development of technology. Whereas mass surveillance and genetic engineering were once seen as ridiculous, albeit entertaining, today these are realities we sometimes take for granted. However, not all of these technologies are met with positive opinions. Many feel that genetic engineering, whether used to prevent the likelihood of disease or simply for aesthetics sake, veers uncomfortably close to “playing God” (McFadden). Others are of the opinion that mass surveillance is a waste of resources, and a violation of privacy. Regardless, the fact that technologies that were once limited to being the topics of science fiction novels are now reality is one way in which science fiction has become more believable.
Although genetic engineering was once simply the topic of many science-fiction novels and films, today it is a possible but rather controversial option. Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World, approaches this very subject. Published in 1932, the book depicts a society in which every member has been conditioned as an embryo `to possess specific mental and physical abilities, which then dictate the caste that member belongs to (Huxley). While supposedly set in place in order to minimize the complications of everyday life and promote stability, Huxley presents this society as lacking the very imperfections and unknowns that come with true fulfillment. Indeed, many worry that by genetically removing any variations and imperfections in humans, scientists are “playing God.”
Another example of genetic engineering in science fiction that is beginning to mirror reality is the more recent 1997 film, Gattaca. Similarly to Brave...