Three Must-Read Books in a Time of Great Change
Two of these books will guide you for change that will occur. The other one is to inspire you to action and help prevent events that could occur.
All three books were written in the middle of the last century. The world war was over, but the Cold War had begun. One could argue that the events of the first half of the twentieth century made it clear that human race faced two formidable enemies: the innate human lust for power, and the curse of the tree of knowledge in the form of quantum leaps in technology. The first two books explore the conflicts with these enemies. The last book faces the prospect of defeat – by both.
One could argue that the events of the first half of the twentieth century made it clear that human race faced two formidable enemies: the innate human lust for power, and the curse of the tree of knowledge in the form of quantum leaps in technology. The first two books explore the conflicts with these enemies. The last book faces the prospect of defeat – by both.
I have posted about it before (hyperlink), but 1984 has become even more relevant in the year since I first posted about it. Not only has it become clearer that what we thought was private is not private anymore, but that Truth is a commodity and thus subject to the laws of supply and demand; technology has made “Truth” easier to produce and reduced its value. In Orwell’s book about the nature of power, Truth has been annihilated by propaganda. The framework of society is expressed and established with a drumbeat of three potent declarations: War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.
Isaac Asimov was a physicist but also one of the prominent authors from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. His book I, Robot was published a quarter-century before the onset of the Digital Age. Asimov foresaw the conflicts that would occur with advancements in artificial intelligence. He knew that we would ultimately create machines that were “smarter” and more powerful than ourselves.
Told through a series of short stories, the book is ultimately enjoyable and readable, but it prepares us for the fact that humans will have as their slaves a smarter and more powerful new race of beings.
A Canticle for Leibowitz is a novel by Walter Miller Jr. written amid the despair and froideur of the Cold War nuclear arms race. Treating the somber topic with the same kind of black humor as the movie Dr. Strangelove; Miller’s post-apocalyptic world is set in a monastery where an order of monks preserve the knowledge of the past – the knowledge that destroyed the world. For example, the sacred and mystical “memorabilia” might include an engineer’s blueprint for an electric motor armature.
The book explores the possibility that the human race is doomed to destroy itself with advanced technology or perhaps save itself through the same technology used toward more virtuous ends.
The story is chronicled over a millennium that spans an apocalypse, a long dark age, and a rebirth. Miller had been a bomber navigator during WWII. On one raid, their bombs destroyed a very old monastery in Italy.
I have read these books many times each, and find both inspiration and admonishment in them all.