Hello SE friends, Gwen with you today, and I’ve an unusual topic to share. It was generated by recent comments made by neighbors, friends, and family members.
Have you heard folks mention 1984? Not the year, but the book or the movie? Rarely a day passes that I don’t hear references to George Orwell’s book as somehow related to current events. I’ve heard it so many times that I finally decided to watch the movie as a refresher. Well, that scared the living daylights out of me! It also made me wonder if Orwell knew that his concerns might be relevant years after his book was published.
This line of thinking prompted questions about writers who predicted future events or solved crimes. Writers like you and me. What is it about this avocation that opens doors to the future?
Let’s look at a few examples.
- George Orwell’s book 1984 was published in 1949. Of his own admission, he wrote to warn readers about totalitarianism. The story involves high tech surveillance. And of course, there’s the Party (Big Brother) who watches and controls free thought. Cameras are everywhere. Interestingly, just before he died, Orwell gave a final warning which is recorded and available on YouTube. He ended his warning with, “The moral to be drawn from this dangerous nightmare situation is a simple one. Don’t let it happen. It depends on you.”
- Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was published in 1932. And like Orwell’s masterpiece, the book foretells of a dystopian society that on the surface appears utopian but quite the opposite is true. Similar to Orwell’s work, psychology is used to control people as does technology.
- Jules Verne is known for his science fiction. He accurately predicted several events and inspired multiple discoveries. His electric submarines in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas (1869) and the space travel in From the Earth to the Moon (1867) are just two examples that have helped shape our present reality.
- H.G. Wells’ Men Like Gods (1923) predicted wireless communication and in other books he mentioned television, audio books, and airplanes. As early as 1896 in The Island of Dr. Moreau, Wells wrote of the dangers of genetic engineering if improperly handled.
- Morgan Robertson’s book, The Wreck of the Titan: or Futility, was published in 1898. It is the story of an “unsinkable” ocean liner that sets sail in the month of April and hits an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. The 2,987 passengers and crew died because there were not enough lifeboats on the ship. In April 1912, the unsinkable Titanic hit an iceberg. 1,533 people died because there weren’t enough lifeboats. Robertson also published a short story in 1914, Beyond the Spectrum, in which Japan attacked the U.S. Navy in Hawaii. This came true on December 7, 1941.
Visionaries? Maybe. But I suspect there’s an additional answer. Writers focus on details that many do not see. In a way, they are like investigative reporters who dig deep and actually solve crimes. The efforts of Gilbert King (Beneath a Ruthless Sun) and that of Christine Pelisek (The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women of South Central) were extraordinary in that regard. Both went the extra mile and in the process, they used tools familiar to many writers.
- They studied newspaper clippings,
- Interviewed locals,
- Traveled to the sites,
- Reviewed anything written on the topic, and
- Spent countless hours trying to find “the” answer and bring it to life.
Sound familiar? There’s one more aspect that I think is core. These reporters summoned the courage to write about something that no one else wanted to touch. I believe they are not alone. I think all serious writers are courageous at heart. And I wonder, have you discovered truths hidden to most?
I’d love to hear your thoughts about writers opening doors to the future. And I’d especially like to know if you’ve stumbled upon the unexpected through your writing journey.
Stay well, my friends. Till next time…