Don’t We Sci-Fi Writers Have an Obligation to Say Something About This New “Orwellian” World?

When I joined the US Army, there was still a Soviet Union. I remember the “good feelings” a segment of American society had towards the Soviet Union then, even going so far as to say the Communist state was a better and more noble nation than America. I said to myself: “Why would any rational person want to champion regimes that have killed ten times more people than the Nazis?”

Science fiction writers have used stories of parallel universes or alternative histories for social commentary and dramatic effect for ages. One of my favorites was Fatherland, a 1992 novel where Hitler and the Nazis won World War II. Its predecessor of the same theme was Philip K. Dick’s, The Man in the High Castle, 1963, which took it further with an occupied America divided between Nazi Germany and the Imperial Japanese.

From Wikipedia:

Fatherland is a 1992 alternative history detective novel by English writer and journalist Robert Harris. Set in a universe in which Nazi Germany won World War II, the story’s lead protagonist is an officer of the Kripo, the criminal police, who is investigating the murder of a Nazi government official who participated at the Wannsee Conference. A plot is thus discovered to eliminate all of those who attended the conference to help the improvement of Germany’s relations with the United States.

The novel inverts some of the conventions of the detective novel. It begins with a murder and diligent police detective investigating and eventually solving it. However, since the murderer is highly placed in a tyrannical regime, solving the mystery does not result in the detective pursuing and arresting the murderer. The contrary occurs in the novel: the murderer pursuing and arresting the detective.

The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. Published and set in 1962, the novel takes place fifteen years after a different end to World War II, and depicts intrigues between the victorious Axis Powers—primarily, Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany—as they rule over the former United States, as well as daily life under totalitarian rule.

The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. Reported inspirations include Ward Moore’s alternate Civil War history, Bring the Jubilee (1953), classic World War II histories, and the I Ching (referred to in the novel). There is a “novel within the novel”, an alternate history within the alternate history where the Allies defeat the Axis (though in a manner distinct from the real-life events of the war).

In 2015, the book was adapted as a multi-season TV series, with Dick’s daughter, Isa Dick Hackett, as a producer.

Consider the following of an alternate America:

  • Jews arrested at synagogues.
  • Christians arrested at churches and police taking down license plates of those going to a drive-thru church.
  • A sole paddleboarder being swarmed by Coast Guard and cited for being outside.
  • A woman arrested for being at the park with her kids.
  • Communist Chinese-made talking drones being used by police to monitor residents.
  • Police telling citizens their “rights have been suspended.”

Well, you already get the punchline. This is not America in a parallel universe or alternate reality. This is 2020 America in real life, today, as of March 2020. The stuff of Orwellian dystopian sci-fi has become reality before our very eyes. Is any of this okay with you?

“Free” America, the country of my birth, the nation I served in the military to protect, and all of Western Europe (except for Sweden because they actually respect and trust their people) decided to follow the draconian containment policies of Communist China. We followed the Chinese-style containment policies of a dictatorship where people have no rights and can be imprisoned or killed at will rather than Sweden-style measures of a free society recognizing the seriousness of the disease but where people don’t lose their civil liberties, livelihoods, and businesses in total.

This is what our health “experts” told us: We had to do this. We had no choice. We had to shut down the economy to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. “Yes, yes, 30 million Americans are out of work and 94% of the nation’s 300 million are under de-facto house arrest, but we had no choice,” they said.

I violently disagreed, said so at the time, kept a diary to track the mortality numbers in America and abroad, and wrote an article too. “There would be 100,000 to 240,000 Americans dead in two weeks.” That was what we were told. How many did die in those two weeks? 31,608.

Even one death from this virus is too much. However, that does not mean we deliberately destroy our entire nation of 330 million Americans. The coronavirus is far more contagious than the seasonal influenza flu, but the mortality rate is basically the same.

I loathe hysteria and hate the political and media elite scaring people. Fear is what bad people use to control populations. That’s true in a sci-fi novel or in real life.

Here’s more context. The number of people who died in one year in America.

  • 37,000 die from car crashes annually – over 90 per day (*numbers corrected 5/16/20) – out of our 6 million car accidents
  • 606,000 died from cancer
  • 88,000 died from alcoholism
  • 83,000 died from diabetes
  • 67,000 died from drug overdoses
  • 50,000 died from suicide
  • 12,000 and 61,000 deaths from the annual flu

To be clear, my commentary (and anger) is completely apolitical. I don’t care about political party or ideology here. What I do care about is elected officials in America behaving like dictators and the media spewing forth a steady diet of fear when the science says we’re going in the right direction. “Science” meaning what we know rather than hypothetical projections based on nothing.

By late March, we knew the models used by the experts were grossly inaccurate and became clearer each day as the real numbers came in. Yet, political leaders continue to speak about infinite shutdowns rather than admit they wrongly and horribly destroyed the economy.

At the writing of this article, 80,846 have died from the COVID-19 virus. Do you know that numbers are intentionally being inflated? Someone dying with COVID-19 is not the same as dying from COVID-19. Why are these “games” being played? Health is supposed to be about facts, not political agendas or hysteria.

People are being shuddered in their homes who have little risk of getting the virus and if they do will only mild or no symptoms. But it is our vulnerable populations who make up the majority of deaths—especially nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In New York, the epicenter of virus deaths in America, the governor signed an executive order requiring these facilities to admit COVID-19 positive patients! These facilities did not have the necessary protective equipment. Results: nearly 5,000 patients dead! These were preventable deaths!

In America, healthy people are being economically destroyed, while our vulnerable populations are not being adequately protected, and those on the margins are being so frightened by the media they won’t even go to the hospital or see their doctor. When the dust settles, we will be a weaker America, but the government will be just fine and have even more power and control over our lives.

All of this seems eerily similar to my very first sci-fi book and series which my inner creative mind forced me to type after not writing a word of fiction in nearly 15 years.  Jews and Christians persecuted–oh yes, atheists too because they’re a “religion,” surveillance drones everywhere, dictatorial governments, the merging of Big Government and Big Tech. I wrote the book back in 2012 and published in 2013.

I won’t go into how I knew right from the beginning that the apocalyptic projections of death were so false as to be criminal, other than to say it was simple logical reasoning, which is what our leaders are supposed to do. Also, I’m not arguing and never argued to do nothing. But it’s not an either-or proposition. We can do both–protect our vulnerable populations and allow our economy to live with people able to work and run their businesses following COVID-19 health recommendations.

In one of my latest Liquid Cool novels from last year–BioPunk Blues, Liquid Cool #7, who are the villains? The World Health Organization. What I’m asking is does this new “reality” that we’ve been thrown into without our consent or input, using the COVID-19 as a justification (or an excuse), seem disturbingly and terribly wrong to you? Do you also feel we are now on a wrong cosmic path which will have dire future consequences for this country? My subconscious mind obviously perceived we were already on this bad path when I wrote my first After Eden novel seven years ago and all of this just brought it all into the light for all to see.  

What do you think? Are you as disturbed by this “new reality”?

Write your comments below

26 Responses

  1. The paranoia, ignorance, and misinformation in this blog and many of the comments are stunning. Just as an example, about 38,800 people died in care crashes in the US in 2019, not 1.25 million. For another, as a winter resident of Florida, I can assure you that Florida is not doing anything different with their senior population than other states. In fact, their Covid-19 death figures are certainly understated because the governor and his minions have been trying to suppress actual death rates due to their fear that they will scare away the tourist trade. For example, Florida does not count the deaths of non Florida residents in their official state tally and county coroners have been told by state officials to not release their daily death totals because the county figures were higher than the ‘official’ state total. It will be very interesting to see how high deaths go in about a month now that Florida is re-opening. If Florida is doing so well, why is their infection rate 67 times higher than Australia’s (584 cases vs 34,000+) ? The reason is that Australia actually followed the advice of their scientists and Florida pretended to do it for about 3 weeks. If anyone is lying about infection and death rates, it is the federal government and the states with certain Republican governors who have a conservative political and economic agenda. By the way, if you are paying attention, countries like Japan and South Korea that thought they had controlled the outbreak and have started to re-open are finding their infection and death rates spiking again. It will be even worse in the US as states haphazardly open too early. Good luck to us all.

    1. Very interesting response. “In fact, their Covid-19 death figures are certainly understated because the governor and his minions.” There is no “fact” in this comment. How do you know the figures are understated? I’m going by the CDC numbers. All I will say is two things. Firstly, your response is a political one and I’m not interested in the politics. Ninety-four percent of the country was shut down, so it was both Republicans and Democrats destroying the American economy to “flatten the curve.” Secondly, based on the comments we truly do have two Americas–one who believes we must open up the society, and those who feel we must keep everything shut down indefinitely, no matter the economic and mental consequences on our people. You said “haphazardly open.” So all us Americans must remain under de-facto ‘house arrest” until a vaccine a year or two from now? If 80-85% of people who do get the virus have mild or no symptoms and we know who our most at-risk populations are, shouldn’t they be the ones protected? I live in Democrat-controlled Los Angeles. We have elites at the top imposing these measures based on no science who continue to get their exorbitant salaries while the masses (mostly Democrats) are being utterly destroyed economically. I’m not sure where the notion came from that solutions must be either-or rather than both. We but a man on the moon but we can’t figure this out? Also, I’ve been many things in life but never paranoid, ignorant, or misinformed. As Americans, we have an obligation to question those in charge, not blindly follow. Again, we are democracy not a dictatorship.

      1. First, I was absolutely correct about Florida understating their Covid infection and death rates and can provide links to articles from legitimate news organizations to support my assertion. Or you could just do a Google search and find them yourself. Second, I don’t know anyone who wants an indefinite shutdown. Of course we can’t stay locked down until a vaccine is available but people like you seem to casually underestimate the impact of the virus. Yes, it is true that younger people seem to survive the infection fairy well but the true death rate for the plus 70 age cohort, based on available data, is somewhere between 6-12%. I don’t know about you but it bothers me that that I may lose as many as 1 in 10 of my family and friends over the next year. Or that I may be one of those mortality statistics. Third, how can you deny that we have a haphazard response to the pandemic? I spend the summer in Minnesota and our governor is trying to make science based decisions but the Republican governors in the surrounding state are clearly making policy based on politics, not science. Minnesota is the economic engine of the Upper Midwest so that means a lot of people live in surrounding states but work in Minnesota. So those people can go to their open bars and restaurants and then bring the virus back to their Minnesota work places. It would really help if we had coordinated policies at least on a regional basis – but preferably national. Fourth, of course this discussion involves politics. Don’t be naïve. Look at the difference in policy in Blue vs Red states. It is clearly based on politics.

  2. Hey Austin,
    No Conspiracy Theory here. I am a person that goes by the numbers, statistics, and the facts (as I know them).
    I want to say I have thought from the beginning that there has been a worldwide overreaction to the SARS CoV-2 (I was calling it SARS II for 6 weeks before WHO officially named the virus). What is the cost of a human life? We have already spent more on the Federal Level than this years Budget. It is estimated that it will hit Five Trillion before we are done. Add another estimated five trillion dollars in loss to the business community and you have 10 Trillion dollar impact. Now lets look at the Sweden model. Limited government intervention (50 people in a bar, restaurant, or nightclub and some regulations on nursing homes. They have the highest mortality rate in Scandinavia at 30 people per 100,000 of population. The U.S. model, runs at 20 people per 100,000 of population. So a 50% increase in mortality. So if the the U.S. hits 100,000 deaths (a similar number to the 1957-1958 Asian Flu and the 1968 Hong Kong Flu with less population), and only 5,000 higher than the CDC high end estimate for the 2017-2018 Seasonal Flu (65,000 to 95,000). If we used the Sweden model and ended up with 150,000 rather than 100,000, that comes out to $200,000,000 per person spent. that 50,000 people is 1.64% of the expected deaths in the U.S. in 2020. The average seasonal flu kills nearly one-million people a year but that is never mentioned.

    Speaking of money spent. Why did I, as a SSA and VA Disabled person get a $1,200 Stimulus check? My income was not affected by the shut down. The $600 a week Pandemic Unemployment Compensation stipend as part of C.A.R.E.S. is more than double what the average person receives in Unemployment Compensation. My daughter was laid off from her current job (working 4-5 days a month as a fill-in when one of the other employees needed a day off. The State gave her $275 a week unemployment based on her previous job. At over $2,500 a month she is making five to six times a month more for working 4-5 days less a month. The people most effected by the shut down are the ones that did not report their income properly (wait staff and other tip based employees and the professional gamblers here in Las Vegas) or those that were already out of work. The unemployment rate was near 3.6% nationwide when the shutdown began.

    I did not bother footnoting this, so if you would like a copy of my (a week or so outdated-I got a massive editing job that is taking far more time than I estimated) spreadsheets, I will gladly forward them.

    Daniel L. Cox
    Managing Editor
    Noetic Press, Publishing and Editing Services

  3. Thank you for positing a sane solution to a difficult problem. Living in upstate New York, I’ve had to deal with Governor Cuomo’s “one size fits all” solutions to a situation he helped to create. I’m part of the high-risk group (75 with type 2 diabetes) and I want the country to open. I can take care of myself. I would say,”get the kids back in school”, but given the state of education today, I think some parents are just finding out what CRAP is being taught in public schools. Time to re-evaluate, perhaps.

  4. From the very beginning, I questioned following the same path as communist China & whether the economic shutdown was necessary. However, when I suggested we should quarantine those who were elderly & had comorbidities (if they requested it) & make sure their jobs remained secure, I was shouted down on social media, was called vile names & even received death threats & wishes hoping I would die from the virus. We’re losing our religious freedom, our right to free speech, our right to travel freely, are being imprisoned w/o due process or remedy, have lost our right to bear arms in some cases & have been made totally dependent on the gov’t in many households. Any sane American is wondering how much we’re supposed to tolerate & if it will take literal war to get those rights back. On top of all that, the national debt is approaching $30 Trillion dollars, which is a completely unsustainable level of debt, even for a cash cow like America.

    The thing that scares me more than all the foregoing, however, is the ease with which many Americans have accepted their loss of freedom & how many of us have not only accepted our enslavement, but have begun to narc on their friends & neighbors with frightening regularity. In 1930’s Germany, the people often ratted on their neighbors for having Jewish sympathies, hiding Jews or being Jews. The similarities between contemporary Americans & those Germans are sadly notable & many of our police officers have adopted the German mantra of “I was just following orders.” This is why I’ve often argued against removal of Confederate statuary & historical reminders. Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it and sadly, we’re now at that point.

  5. Please double check and correct numbers. Car crash figures are much too high, or perhaps you used global numbers for America. But I agree, this situation is horrifyingly Orwellian. You know what they say about socialism: “You can vote your way into it, but you have to shoot your way out of it.” The more we speak up now, the less likely it is that we’ll have to shoot our way out of it.

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