Monday, July 25, 2005

Our distopian future? Oh, it won't be that bad.

This weekend I have been reading the Behemoth series by Peter Watts and it has caused me to use the word distopian over and over, much to the annoyance of some (distopian, distopian, distopian). The books are what I would call aggressively distopian. They are set in the near future and more so than in other series many separate bad things go wrong in this particular future to create the distopia. The books do center on a group of "rifters", divers modified to handle the extremes of working in the extreme deep ocean near rift vents. As such the claustrophobia is often palpable in the novels. The author has also included a heady mix of psychosis and chaos brought on by human hubris as well. I can't really say more without giving the plot away but I suggest you read them.



In the serendipity field that seems to permeate my life I have noticed several series on cable about the weird undersea life at the very bottom of the ocean that serves as paractically a main character in Perter Watts' novels. There are things at the bottom like the angler fish which use a phosphorescent light at the end of protrusion from there nose to lure fish into a cavernous maw full of teeth. These fish come from your worst nightmares, good thing they are only a few inches long. Even the Simpsons got in the act last night, where the couch gag was that the family sat on their couch, which turned out to be the very angler fish lure I just mentioned and then they all got gobbled by the fish.

I had found out about the books from Boing Boing a while ago, and there was a mention yesterday that Peter Watts placed the earlier books of the series online (there are four) under a creative commons license. Now you can explore his distopian future without an initial purchase to decide first if you like them.

By the way, maybe it is my normal naive optimism but I don't think that these disptopias will come to pass. More on the many ways the world will end (or has ended) but hasn't in a later post.

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