From fantasy to reality

Reality inspires fiction. Very rarely, fiction inspires reality. It is indeed special when creations are lifted from the minds of gifted thinkers and placed in the plane of our existence. Great science fiction writers have predicted future inventions and events down to every little detail, decades before science caught up with them.

Jules Verne, in From the Earth to the Moon predicted the Apollo 11 mission, including details like the cost and material of the spacecraft, location of launch etc. more than 100 years before the launch. In 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, he foresaw the use of submarines. Hugo Gernsback, the father of science fiction, predicted almost every facet of modern technology, from mobile phones to solar power. He outlined the operation of radar technology decades before it was first radar was invented. H.G. Wells used an atom bomb in his 1914 novel, The World Set Free, and the protagonist from Mark Twain’s science fiction series for the London Times stumbles upon a world-wide network of information sharing, very similar to the internet, complete with social networking and video communication.

Many such prophets have foretold future events with ridiculous specificity but, to predict scientific inventions of the future is one thing, to accurately describe the socio-political landscape of the world, decades ahead of time, is quite another.

While our world might not have descended into a totalitarian state, many parallels can yet Frombe drawn between our society and the one in George Orwell’s 1984.

In 1984, Big Brother keeps tabs on the population through “telescreens”. In the United States’ NSA, with it’s wiretapping and data mining program (PRISM),we have our very own Big Brother.

In the novel, The Party controls the majority of the population (the Proles) with a steady supply of food, alcohol, the lottery and pornography. All responsibilities and citizen duties are shunned for bread and circuses. This superficial means of appeasement used to control society mirrors our world where diversions, distractions and satisfaction of shallow, immediate comforts are used to create public approval.

George Orwell also explains in detail how language can be exploited to control society. This “DoubleSpeak” was a part of the central theme of the novel.

In view of the rather recent demise of Osama Bin Laden, several politicians have stressed that the location of Bin Laden’s house was obtained from the informant using “enhanced interrogation methods “. In other words, torture. Orwell’s ideas in action.

Many more similarities can be found between the world of 1984 and the one that we live in today.

It is a wonder how writers like George Orwell have managed to map the collective decision-making of millions of people over many years. Perhaps, these seers have figured out that the society as a whole is shaped by a handful of great minds that come and go over time. And perhaps, great minds do think alike.






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