Alternative Future History Part One


The trend of late in science fiction is to create alternative histories.  It is something I just don’t understand. Not the meaning of it, but the reasoning behind why they write it. As far as I can tell it is only an intellectual exercise with very little actual revelations; although it has spawned a fascinating replacement for the Goth movement called Steam Punk.

It could be that, as fast as technology is advancing, the writers are afraid to guess what may happen in the future because they might be proved wrong within their own lifetimes. That is pure conjecture on my part, of course.

The late, and great, writer Isaac Asimov based his stories on the exact opposite premise. He imagined a time when someone could come up with a way to predict the future.  In his Foundation novels, he rightly reasoned that while specific technology may not be predicted, nor could individual actions, sociology could be used as a base to predict trends. And using those trends, the future of the human race in general could be predicted.

Not only did he write an amazing trilogy of novels based on this predictive sociology but he managed something no other science fiction writer before, or since has done. He tied all of his science fiction novels together before his death in 1992, including those written before he came up with the idea behind the Foundation Trilogy. Granted, he did a little creative editing to do so, but that doesn’t lessen the accomplishment.

While I can’t lay claim to being as brilliant or creative as Asimov (not even close), nor can I ever hope to achieve even 1 percent of his creative output (he wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards), I am going to attempt my own version of an alternative future history.

The alternative future history I intend to portray here must, of necessity, have a basis in current events as well as recent history. In keeping with that basis, allow me the conceit of focusing on one of my favorite subjects: The Religious Right.

Before the Reagan era the Evangelical community in the U.S. could be seen as being segregated into two types:

  1. The true Believers (in my estimation that could include Billy Graham) who genuinely wanted to share the love and joy which they felt in their faith with the rest of the population.
  2. The type of Evangelist who had more materialistic goals in mind. As I believe Robin Williams once said in a comedy routine “Put one hand on your radio and the other on your wallet.” This could include Jimmy Swaggert (“I have sinned” again and again and…) and the scores of people still hawking their biblical wares on Sunday morning shows on independent television stations.

But something changed during that period of time when Reaganism caught fire: The two groups started to merge and began to involve themselves in politics. Groups began to spring up with innocuous sounding names such as the American Family Association and Focus on the Family.

And during those years a young man named Ralph Reed who was “told by the Holy Spirit to come to Jesus” in 1983 joined up with Jack Abramoff (yes, that Jack Abramoff) and Grover Norquist in the College Republican National Committee. Reed’s love for politics and his strong ideas on the role of Christianity in America soon became intimately intertwined. This resulted in his take-over of the Christian Coalition in 1989. Unfortunately it also became the root of the right wing we know it today; conservatives not only in fiscal values, but also in social values.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood? (Or is it Handmaiden?)

    Reply

    • It is Handmaid’s Tale. I would say that you’re jumping ahead, but the vision I have in mind is a little more…final and immediate. There are other players behind the men behind the scenes. I’ll get into that in the next installment. Great comment! I hope that my writing may one day rise to the level of someone like her.

      Reply

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