Almost there...

Thursday, March 15, 2001

One concept that always makes my brain spin a little bit is that of science fiction authors and novels and how their creations come to life in the real world. One of the most trying moments in my teaching career was when I was reading Fahrenheit 451 for the first time because I had to teach it later that year. As if on cue, students would whine, "Why do we have to read this? Can't we just watch the movie?" They would talk about going to Magic Mountain and hanging out with their friends there, and they would complain that the coasters just weren't that fast. They weren't scary enough. They would listen to their walkman in my class, missing everything I was saying. They were taking drugs that made them insensible to the world around them. They were far more interested in destruction than creation. All of these things are discussed or alluded to in F451. The seashell radio Mildred listens to every night are just the same as a walkman. Our roadways are speedier every day, with pedestrian deaths mounting each year. I was doing okay with it all until I saw a story on 48 Hours on CBS about a new building material that wouldn't burn. They did a demonstration with two shacks: one of wood and stucco, the other made of the new material. They put some kindling in the bottom of the shacks, doused it with lighter fluid, and whoosh! The wood and stucco shack was burned to the ground in under 10 minutes. The other shack had some stains on the wall from the smoke. Mr. Bradbury had definitely hit a little to close to home there.

Anyway, this has happened with other books of course, but unfortunately not usually the more utopian novels. Mergle.

So today I was reading through my weekly "How Stuff Works" newsletter. There was an article on ViOS. Instantly it reminded me of Snowcrash, but it wasn't until I got to the section on avatars that it made me feel squirmy. Is this the future of the internet? I don't know, but if it is, then Neal Stephenson sure called it. The one thing I wonder now is whether this guy created it himself, or read Snowcrash first.


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