February 14, 2014

Impermanance

The most amazing event of my lifetime was the dissolution of the USSR. It's not something I thought I'd live to see, because I thought the only way the USSR would come to an end was in nuclear holocaust, which would happen to me in the US, too.

The idea that the USSR would simply collapse and vanish without causing a World War was a complete surprise.

(In case you're wondering, the second most amazing event of my lifetime was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens.)

I think the dissolution of the USSR was unexpected by nearly everyone, and once in a while I run into fiction in which it still exists. There's a USSR in Full Metal Panic, for instance, but that was nostalgia. Having a Soviet Union in the world made it a more interesting, albeit dangerous, place. FMP was written long after 1991.

I occasionally have an urge to read a book I used to own, and if it's offered for Kindle I will buy it. I just did that a couple of days ago with the so-called Giant's trilogy by Hogan: Inherit the Stars, The Gentle Giants of Ganymede, and Giant's Star. I'm reading the third one now and it has an active USSR in it. (It was written in 1981.)

He doesn't assume political stasis; he also includes a "United States of Europe". But, like almost everyone else, he assumes the permanance of the USSR. Which, of course, no longer exists.

There's a lot of that in science fiction. In the movie 2001, the shuttle that Dr. Floyd is on to go to the space station belongs to Eastern Airlines. Which no longer exists; it was one of the victims of deregulation. (Frank Lorenzo bought it and looted it in 1991.) (Oops, no, it was PanAm, which also died in 1991 because of deregulation.)

And, of course, any picture of Manhattan which includes the WTC always brings a twinge.

I suppose it's trite to say, but things change. And no one can predict which things will change. Even mountains change.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Entertainment at 02:51 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 In the movie 2001, the shuttle that Dr. Floyd is on to go to the space station belongs to Eastern Airlines. Which no longer exists; it was one of the victims of deregulation.

The Space Clipper Orion was flown by PanAm in the movie, which doesn't invalidate your comment one whit.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 14, 2014 05:51 PM (/hR8t)

2

Did I remember wrong? I was sure it was Eastern, but it's been 20 years since I watched it.

But yeah, PanAm is gone, too.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 14, 2014 05:55 PM (+rSRq)

3 You're right. It was PanAm. (Bother)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 14, 2014 06:10 PM (+rSRq)

4 One of the great moments of my movie-viewing life was when I got to see 2001 in all its glory on a full-sized movie screen, and me with the Golden Seat. 

The PanAm scene still brings shivers to this day... particularly now that I know just how freakin' hard it is to do that sort of thing in real life with how orbital mechanics work.

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 14, 2014 09:48 PM (/hR8t)

5 In fairness to Hogan, he did have aliens behind the Soviet Union, so it probably would have collapsed after the third book. Isaac Asimov's Fantastic Voyage II, written in 1987, took place in the mid to late 21st century, but the Soviet Union is still strong.

Posted by: muon at February 15, 2014 07:23 AM (jFJid)

6 FMP's USSR is a deliberate anachronism. China is also in the middle of a 5-way civil war.  It turns out these are all side effects of the experiment that created the Whispered.

Posted by: ubu at February 15, 2014 04:37 PM (GfCSm)

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