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the future from 1950s science fiction

I enjoy reading older science fiction, from the 1940s up to the turn of the century. I especially enjoy Andre (Alice) Norton, Clifford Simak, Philip K. Dick, and many others. And of course, C. S. Lewis's space trilogy tops the list.

We may think that science fiction writers in the past, when visualizing the future of western civilization, tended to portray the greatest danger facing the human race as coming from reactionary, conservative, and institutional forces. That may be the case with some authors. But I've noted in at least four works the greatest danger was visualized as coming from more progressive -- and supposedly scientific -- influences. Here are a few excerpts... 

“The physical sciences, good and innocent in themselves, had already begun to be warped, had been subtly maneuvered in a certain direction. Despair of objective truth had been increasingly insinuated into the scientists; indifference to it, and a concentration upon mere power, had been the result… The very experiences of the dissecting room and the pathological laboratory were breeding a conviction that the stifling of all deep-set repugnances was the first essential for progress.”  

-- C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength (1945)

"Would it ever end—men’s unthinking grasping for leadership, their mindless search for kings and gods, while within them their own powers withered? Always it had been the same; leaders arose holding before men the illusion of vast, glorious promises while they carefully led them into hells of lost dreams and broken promises."

-- Raymond F. Jones, The Alien (1951)

"Odd—when Pax had ruled, there were thought police and the cardinal sin was to be a liberal, to experiment, to seek knowledge. Now the wheel had turned—to be conservative was suspect. To suggest that some old ways were better was to exhibit the evil signs of prejudice."

-- Andre Norton, Star Born (1957)

"While her sons had found graves, fighting for freedom, something had happened to the freedom for which they fought. Nobody knew quite what had happened, but it had gone away. Possibly it had been lost as emergency followed emergency on the international scene, possibly it had been strangled in red tape as regulation followed regulation on the national scene. The time had come in America, too, as it had come to foreign lands, when all actions that were not compulsory were forbidden. Thus, freedom had died."

-- Robert Moore Williams, Doomsday Eve (1957)


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