excessive saving of money forced me to buy four books on saturday. all first edition hardbacks (i collect them): i was delighted to find one of them is signed by the author, peter f. hamilton.
you know, i used to think that political idealists, particularly the famous ones, were dangerous. that the communist ideals of marx would only cause trouble wherever they fell into practice.
then i came across a quote somewhere by mahatama ghandi or someone equally famous, the basics of which i will attempt to repeat:
"i like your christ. i dislike you christians. you christians are not like your christ."
substitute any word or ideal there: democracy/democrats. communism/communists. and you have the basis for kicking any idiots in the pants.
ideals meet humanity
wherever you get humans, you get a massive disparity between the ideal and the reality; you get greed, apathy and instability caused by an imbalance between over-powerful, power-crazed individuals on the one hand, and everyone else on the other.
i read sci-fi books because they tend to combine "now" with "what-if", where the scale of "what-if" goes one or more degrees into the future.
olaf stapledon's "last and first men" takes us to the utmost extreme of those scales, such that all other sci-fi books can only be shadows of his vision, to fill in the missing gaps.
this book, by peter f hamilton, takes us 50 years into the future. GM crops have already cross-pollinated with common / garden weeds and plants, causing over-sized, pesticide-resistant and hardy plants that make "day of the triffids" look like a walk in the park.
and this is just a throw-away, two-para explanation as background: it's not even part of the story.
what _is_ more of the story-line is the extrapolation of the effects of the european union "superstate" on its member states. the politicians in the book are talking about having to raise "national insurance" up to 17 percent, and that's excluding income tax already being at 53% across the board.
and there's nothing that can be done about it because the majority of europeans (50%) are already at retirement age, and they expect their state pensions, whatever the cost.
any politician that told 50% of the population that they had to work harder, for longer, and get less, would soon be ousted from power!
which brings us _right_ back to the greedy, apathy and the over-powerful trying to tell the greedy, apathetic and collectively over-powerful what to do...
my favourite line of the book is the throw-away "..you know, this riot is expected to be much worse than the ones in paris, brussells and berlin..."
overall, i am totally disheartened by the future as outlined by peter f. hamilton, and i hope to god it doesn't happen.
p.s. the book's supposed to be about the first human to be totally genetically re-engineered: an 80-year-old in a 20-year-old body, but that's just an excuse for the (more important) background material to be portrayed to the reader.