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- INNER DISTRICT
Otherland Book Club - BOOK 1 - Visions of the Future
DustDon?t forget the rules... do not discuss anything outside of book 1!
If you have a topic for next week?s discussion, tweet it to @DustCM
All throughout Otherland, Tad Williams includes snapshots of the non-virtual world of tomorrow. He hints at greater global unrest, a growing chasm between the upper and lower classes (we see scenes of families and children living under highways, kept out of affluent neighborhoods with layers of electrified fencing), and a general inflammation of many of today?s problems. There are potential solutions to be found as well; at one point Renie eats a meal of vat-grown meat, hypothesized to be a clean and simple solution to overpopulation and a growing food demand.
In many ways, the future world of Otherland mirrors our own. Extreme technology is utilized for mostly affluent pleasures, while the rest of the world is left behind to suffer. Do you think Tad?s vision of things continuing on this path is accurate? In what ways do you think the technology found in Otherland could be utilized to solve real world issues?
DustBoth of you make good and interesting points. You both reference the increasing speed of the technological curve, and its ability to in some way balance human desires for standards of living and beyond. Both of your replies make me think directly of singularity theory, which includes not only the evolution of the virtual world to have just as much influence in our daily lives, but in the physical world with prospects of nano-technology and similar tech.
One thing that struck me about Tad's vision so far is that it does not seem to include many references to energy evolution. In order for the future to support the scale of technology found in Otherland, we'd either need to burn enough carbon to really throw the atmosphere for a spin, or evolve into an off-the grid renewable future, where most supply their own power via personal and renewable sources (future fiction such as Dune has references to such things... there is no grid or power infrastructure, leading you to believe there are personal sources). When Renie and the gang are holed up in the military complex, it struck me as a little strange (or perhaps depressing to think of it not changing) that they needed to draw off a traditional grid to power the complex.
My input to this conversation would be that the technology of Otherland could be put towards good use in full on scientific simulations. A simulation which acted as an energy revolution simulation, switching the parameters around and making solar the only power source available and watching the outcome as the world scrambles for resources to supply the world's population, seeing if pressures and shortages of materials create more tensions that lead to energy wars among the AI. Technological and sociological experiments could be taken to a whole new level utilizing AI and extremely realistic parameters. There are many computer models and simulations now, but this opens the door to a whole new level. It also opens the doors to educating in a whole new way using gaming systems. Experimental social games such as "World Without Oil", could be used for much more than interesting speculation, but for real scientific data that effects real world planning.
Thanks for contributing to this conversation. Hope to hear more :)