It was a sultry evening of Kolkata when some latent coldness of air from the nearby Hoogly river was circulating around the “Oxford Bookstore” of Park Street. The date was – 14th September, 2016. I was there at that location (Oxford Bookstore) owing to the book launch of my first science fiction book on sustainability – “Lucy and The Train: Tryst with Sustainability” published by TERI Press. During the post launch session, a question which came from the other side to me on that day changed everything within me about seeking truth while writing. Truth was never quite same ever or more so ever after that.
The question was nothing – but the title of this article piece. A simple question to which I said its not a western cultural domination of my thought, neither I am xenophobic or averse to any culture but LUCY to me was , is and will be – “Love, Understanding, Creativity and Youth” and a symbolism of the earliest origin of humanity on Earth which I saw in a museum in Addis Ababa. So its less of a name and more of an emblem of the corners of truth which I am seeking. This question thereafter has only chased me like the dogs of a police criminal squad or an investigation team of the anti terror squads and hence I was thrown out from the present. I have seen dreams where I am running a sprint or marathon with different characters on my sides with different names and I am trying to touch them. However, they are passing by me in the sprint or in the marathon and I would wake up from my dream in the midnight.
Like a fugitive and a wanderer I landed in the pages of a wide variety of books dealing with critical history of science fiction writing. It happened because I became more and more doubtful of my character name and voice which I wanted to be audible through the protagonist character. Hence, to write the next sequels, those pages of critical history were extremely important for curing my perennial existential crisis with whatever I do.
The pages of the history to a wanderer only wondered me. Hence, through those pages of history I discovered the three broad thematic definition of science fictions which later on is creating a derivative towards dystopia definition. I saw through the critical work of Damien Broderick that today’s almost Providence type of act of science fiction creation from Hollywood or any part of the world through the cultural prisoner’s dilemma game (gain of one culture is the loss of other culture) started strategically in the 18th and 19th century.
It was deliberately done to reflect on the cultural, scientific and technological upheavals of that time. Once I went back further towards past some startling facts came upon. The summary of the historical search showed to me that science fiction writing or dystopia was, is and will always be some form of a cultural discourse combining visual, textual, cinematic, tele-visual, comic book or a game playing to create a world view which is different from the world in which a reader lives. SO, the first reaction of the reader can quite naturally be – “It is impractical and doesnot affect me or how does it affect me or how can I relate to it?”
This world in which the reader lives also includes the vast unexplored fields of ideas in the mind of the reader too. So the history is constantly showing us that at every point of time, there is someone who is ruling or steering this gaming of the mind. Sometimes, history showed to me that fantasy, magic, religion, knowledge politics are ruling this game and holding the steering wheel of this gaming exercise. Hence, immediately characters and their names are also changing in the text of the science fiction or a dystopia creation or within the narrative plots.
To illustrate, the pages of the history showed to me that the literary establishments in America and Europe for a long time were dismissing science fiction texts by showing deliberately literary fiction above science fiction. I explored and discovered from the pages of critical history that protestant reformation, post-Copernican science and Catholic theology, mysticism and magic were constantly in a dialectics for a long time. The result of this dialectics was creation of different world famous science fiction and dystopian characters and their names. We often worshiped them which was, is or will not be necessary for any reader in the future. May be, I was a romantic and not a true reader and hence got trapped in the worshiping and that’s not being a good, true reader or loving a character. So, I was just a romantic of the history of reading texts and liked the idea of living and idealizing, idolizing the memoir of romanticizing the character but not loving the character in the science fiction or dystopian plots which I read. Therefore, I could not distinguish the fact that when the Catholic was dominating the orientation of the characters in the plots, their names and the plot was turning towards fantasy. While, when the protestant reformation was dominating, it was leading to the formation of hard science fiction characters and texts.
Historically, this hard science fiction texts also had a root once Descartes settled down in 1629 in Holland while the native Catholics became hostile to him. More shocking is – “between the Greek period and Renaissance”, there was a long gap of science fiction texts and characters. Again, from the late 16th and 17th century, with a rise in scientific inquiry in Protestant countries, science fiction characters and texts started to emerge. However, the larger question is that the world before 16th and 17th century and even during the Greek times was rich in scientific advancements and other cultures. Then why those characters, cultures are not there or why we are shy to accept them as the science or fiction of those times as a science fiction. What stops us to accept those texts also as hard science fiction? I still don’t know the answer. May be I will find the answer someday when I find the answer to the question of that sultry evening – “Why your protagonist name is – LUCY?”
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