First of all, I have some important insights (well, at least I think they are important-you can decide for yourself :-)) on an issue that is of interest to many Freepers. Please look at my comments 26 and 27 on this thread
Then, on to other subjects:
My favorite quote:
The subjective world of one rather powerful person can infringe on the world of another person. If I can make you see the world the way I see it, then you will automatically think the way I think. You will come to the conclusions that I come to. And the greatest power one human being can exert over others is to control their perceptions of reality, and infringe on the integrity and individuality of their world. That is done, for instance, in psychotherapy...If I invade your world you will probably sense something alien, because my world is different from yours. You must, of course, fight it. But often we don't because a lot of it is subtle; we just have intimations that our worlds are being invaded, we don't know where this invasion of our personal integrity is coming from. It comes from authority figures in general.
Quote from the Philip K. Dick interview in Charles Platt's "Dream Makers--The Uncommon People Who Write Science Fiction."
I am a big fan of science fiction since the best writing has a good record of predicting future trends and tries to address all the important questions of philosophy.
So you want a look into the future. Here goes:
Any colonies that are set up in orbit or in space will rebel against the "home world" when it is economically feasible to do so.
The debate over cloning, biotechnology, nanotechnology, artifical intelligence, etc. is going to get very ugly. Offshore rich people will be the first to use these in their daily lives to avoid restrictive laws. A war against an army that has no free will due to technological tampering is in the world's future.
The Genome Project will have many great benefits. It will also produce many horrors. Hang on to your chairs, folks.
One hundred years from now virtually all great philosophers of our past will be considered idiots but Philip K. Dick will be considered a genius. (Is that a joke? I know he would think so. ;-) ) What we today call metaphysics will be known as experimental physics (source: Greg Egan).
In that same time period all the great religions will come under incredible siege. Virtually none of the elites will believe in the religions of the masses. They just won't have figured out how to explain themselves without losing power. At least one new cult will rise to become a major world religion. I have no clue what they will believe, but I am confident it will be totally crazy.
Supercomputers will create new branches of mathematics that virtually no human will understand but will lead to real technological breakthroughs.
There will be wars, slaughter, genocide. The players will just be different.
There will be heroism, great deeds, great discoveries, wonderful wisdom as well.
If you knew the future today all you would have is a very bad headache! ;-)
Now some of you out there may not be familiar with science fiction, so here is my " classics you should read" list with brief comments:
Attanasio--Solis--Charlie freezes his brain to see what the future will bring. Thousands of years later he finds out. Lyrical prose and fascinating speculation on mind-matter and mind-body issues.
Baker--Mendoza in Hollywood--The Company creates cyborgs that travel through time to preserve vital artifacts. Mendoza is a botanist sent to 1860s Southern California on a routine mission that spirals out of control. Baker is a master of literary SF and her range of speculation will challenge the most experienced SF reader.
Banks--Consider Phlebas--I am so in tune with this man's dark humor. The culture is a fascinating civilization with many pros and cons, but Murphy's Law rules in Banks' universe. ;)
Bear--Blood Music--A very thought-provoking novel. The man is probably crazy--but you never know...
Brown--Engineman--Published only in the UK, this is a little-known gem about the impact of faster-than-light travel on politics, religion, and culture.
Card--Ender's Game--This is a well-known classic that brought the author deserved fame.
Dick--Time Out of Joint--A great book to begin reading Philip K. Dick. You will think you understand it--until he starts rocking your world.
Dick--Ubik--I just love this book--though as you read it you don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Flynn--In The Country of the Blind--A "secret history" thriller where the players are all too familiar.
W. McCarthy--Aggressor Six--A vivid human-alien war that will keep you on the edge of your chair.
W. McCarthy--Bloom--A nanotechnology nightmare has forced humankind to flee Earth for the outer solar system. A fascinating look at a civilization fighting for survival.
Miller--Canticle for Liebowitz--If they didn't make you read this in English class they should have.
Moore--Bring the Jubilee--A spectacular Civil War alternative history novel.
Moran--The Long Run--Trent The Uncatchable vs. French UN Cyborgs in a wonderful near future thriller.
Morgan--Altered Carbon--What is the point of murdering someone when their brain can be quickly downloaded with all their previous memories? This page-turner is not for the squeamish.
Roberts--Pavane--An alternate history where the Catholic Church rules Europe in the twentieth century. The Church is convinced that proposed modern technology is the work of the Devil.
Stirling--The Domination--This is the revised edition of three masterpieces (Marching Through Georgia, Under The Yoke, and The Stone Dogs). It is an intense frightening alternate history about a group of South African settlers (the Draka) starting from scratch and building an empire with a goal to conquer the World. A major focus is the control of people's beliefs and actions through a series of carrots, sticks, and nasty subtle trickery.
Sturgeon--More Than Human--An outstanding read that will stay with you for a long time.
Turtledove--Guns of the South--Time travelers bring boxes of AK47s to General Robert E. Lee and after that...Just read it for yourself and find out. Historian Turtledove displays an impressive depth of understanding here.
Watson--The Embedding--A novel about linguistics that you can't put down. Amazing.
Williams--Days of Atonement--A haunting detective/sf story set in New Mexico that is beautifully written.
R. C. Wilson--A Bridge of Years--An impressive exploration of time travel.
R. C. Wilson--The Chronoliths--A brilliantly designed "time loop" featuring the megalomaniac Kuin and his plans for world domination. He creates monuments of his victories and sends them back in time to prepare the planet for his conquest. But there is one critical fact about the past that his research has failed to reveal--over and over and over again...
P.S. Some Great Short Stories:
Attanasio--Ink From The New Moon--This alternate history stunner looks at what might have happened if the Chinese "discovered" America.
Ballard--The Message From Mars--Dan Quayle fans will not like this one, but here is a hilarious parable of a space mission with unexpected results. Ballard is the master of symbols--in this story it is the sand of the desert and it's Gulliver-like visitor that captures his imagination and will capture yours.
Chiang--The Story Of Your Life--Linguistics, alien contact, free will vs. determinism all are brilliantly treated here. Chiang reminded me of Joseph Campbell's famous line to the effect that the most important truths are never spoken. It is a reminder (of something the liberals never do get) that we are not all equal--the brighter you are and the harder you apply yourself intellectually the more "good stuff" you get to know, and there may be some very good reasons you dare not share it with others.
Dick--The Electric Ant--This masterpiece takes on the toughest questions of philosophy--and makes you wish you never asked the questions.
Egan-- The Extra
--My favorite cloning story. This is chilling stuff.
J. M. Ford--Heat of Fusion--This is my favorite quantam physics story. Is the narrator alive or dead? You are the observer--you decide.
Kelly--Think Like A Dinosaur--This stunning story tackles head on the issue of identity challenged by new technology. Will technological change radically alter ethics? Count on it.
Lafferty-- Nine Hundred Grandmothers
--This devout Catholic writer taunts the reader without mercy.
--What would a future trip to distant stars really bring? This is a clever, well written story.
Tiptree-- The Last Flight of Dr. Ain
--A former CIA employee wrote this story more than thirty five years before 9/11. Let us all hope it never comes true.
Vance--The Moon Moth--A complex alien culture is the setting for this showcase of Vance's dry wit, world-building skills, and master story-telling.
Oh, yes, and don't forget to read the short story I have posted to FR
R.I.P. Ed Zehr 1936-2001