A key concept in “The Gone World” is the generation and destruction of Inadmissible Future Trajectories (IFT). The Terra Firma is the original timeline from which these new worlds are born from. IFTs are collapsed when the time traveler exits the wormhole which gives incentive to those within an IFT to make sure this event never happens. The creation and destruction of IFTs share a striking resemblance with dreams. In dreams a separate world is created which is tailored to the observer’s psychology. Often dreams reflect reality and consider potential situations that could occur in the future. Like IFTs every construction in the dream is dissolved upon waking. However, a key philosophical debacle presented with the IFTs is whether life means anything with the knowledge that the universe could come to an end. This same phenomenon is true of dreams. On the surface dreams have no impact on physical life. The journal article, “The dream as space, time and emotion,” explores the function of dreams. Seferis concludes that dreams are intended to release emotional energy collected from the recent past. Dreams are an expenditure of energy which means they have a physical effect on the real world. The same phenomenon is true of the IFTs. The information created in IFTs is useful not just in the Terra Firma, but other IFTs as well. The initial perception of a person is living in an IFT is intense nihilism, but this is response does not fully consider the situation. Living within an IFT represents an opportunity to help every possible timeline with the knowledge gained in this timeline. The value of their contributions is not meaningless because it will end but is made infinitely meaningful across all timelines. In many ways the position of the IFT is more hopeful than our physical reality. Physicists currently predict that the universe will eventually begin to contract which will end our existence. Although this is not expected to occur until far into the future this implies that any action taken is ultimately pointless. Still, although humanity is knowledgeable of this fact, it does not stop people from striving for achievement. The human race and even the universe is incredibly fragile, and many events could destroy both. The possibilities are too great in number that it is not possible to worry about them all.
In Zone One Mark Spitz is tasked with clearing New York City of zombies to allow humanity to begin developing again. This zombie novel is unique in that the zombies are not thought of exclusively as bloodthirsty monsters, but instead as a separate class altogether. This distinction is explored particularly in the two classes of zombies, skels and stragglers. The relatively docile stragglers only exist to wander the city and are not overly hostile to themselves or others. The skels are extremely aggressive and actively attack the sweepers on sight. Towards the end of the novel, it is discovered that the stragglers are being converted into the skels. This is reminiscent of Karl Marx’s prediction of communism. Wolff and Leopold provide an overview and analysis of Karl Marx’s philosophy that can be found at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/marx/#InjuCapi. Marx’s essential theory is that the proletariat will eventually seize of means of production and cast out the elite. The assumption behind this theory is that once the working class holds the wealth, then segregation and greed will dissolve as there would be nothing to be competitive about. Wolff and Leopold question the integration of justice and communism in section 5.3. They claim Marx believed either that communism and justice were compatible or that communism transcended justice. This idea is expressed in Zone One by the rise of the zombies. Mark Spitz thrives in the apocalypse in a world stripped of class and race. The humans are the only group that distinguishes the zombies between stragglers and skels and could be the bourgeoisie. The zombies are the proletariat and as they begin to “seize the means of production” they become skels and attempt to tear down Zone One. Once the zombies overrun Zone One, Mark Spitz begins to find peace in the second end of the world. The zombies have no concept of class, race, or prejudice. They are all equal once they transform into skels and there are no social issues. The only issue brought up in the novel is that there is also no culture or social functions.
A prevalent theme in American War is the triumph of revenge over love. The concept of revenge requires a target, however, such as a person or an organization. Dana’s death is unique in that a rogue drone is responsible for the bombing. The reason these rogue drones exist is because the southern states destroyed the command center. Originally, the drones were created by the north as a weapon. Neither country intended to have these drones kill innocent civilians. Dana’s death has a significant impact on Sarat and, ultimately, contributed to her decision to bomb the country. But who or what is to blame for the existence of these rogue drones?
This problem is common and is becoming increasingly prevalent. The advent of self-driving cars in particular highlights this issue as people’s lives is directly in the hands of automation. The article “Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal” found at https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07135-0 explains the issue of automation. The primary issue is that decisions regarding human lives have to be decided before the events take place. The degree of separation between the decision and the action complicates the morality of the decision made. In the case of Dana’s death, a programmer decided that the drones should engage enemy combatants. The morality of this decision is questionable on the grounds of war being moral at all but is generally accepted even in present United States culture. In the novel, when the command station was destroyed, the programming became scrambled. Civilians such as Dana were sometimes confused with enemy combatants. But the question of who made the immoral decision is obscure. It was not immoral of the south to destroy an enemy weapon that was actively harming them. The north’s responsibility is also questionable since their original objective was to eliminate military targets. No real concrete decision was made to kill Dana, which makes it difficult to assign blame and eventually revenge. This is why Sarat ultimately decides to release the Reunification Plague on the entire country. She feels the need to get revenge, but nobody is directly responsible for Dana’s death. Therefore, she seeks revenge on the entire world continuing the cycle of hatred.
A primary theme in “Station Eleven” is the survival of art in the wake of the apocalypse. Long after technology has withered, bands of peoples are brought together by literature. The Traveling Symphony is brought together by the works of Shakespeare and Tyler falls into the bible, creating his own cult. In both cases the art changes how they behave. Tyler, as the Prophet, believes that the Georgian Flu was sent to cull the wicked, like the Flood in the bible. He also reverts to some of the more archaic stories in the bible about having many, young wives. In this way is personality is molded by the stories he keeps in the absence of a defined culture. The end of the novel shows the power of the stories we keep. When Tyler realizes Miranda has also heard of the Dr. Eleven comics he hesitates because the shared experience of reading the comic makes them feel connected.
The nature of the stories in this novel reminds me of the TV show Doctor Who. The show is driven by the “regeneration” of the Doctor. This link shows an example of a regeneration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F84WapAH7M. When this event happens, the Doctor’s physical form and personality burn, and he takes a new completely different form. Functionally this allows different actors to become the Doctor, but it reminds me of this novel because the Doctor only has his memory of the past when he changes. Sometimes his memory of the past becomes blurry and the story he tells himself changes. Normally the Doctor is carefree and follows a set of rules, but occasionally he interprets his past differently. This leads him to change events in time or sometimes punish people for eternity. This emphasizes the importance of stories, especially in the absence of peers who shared the experience. Stories teach us how to behave socially. That is why stories are more important than technology and why art outlasted technology in this novel. Without proper social interactions that are instructed by stories and history we cannot create and use technology because we cannot communicate.
Erdrich’s “Future Home of the Living God” describes an untraditional apocalypse in which humanity is fading out due to evolution. As a result, pregnant women are being persecuted. What is interesting about this book is that many of the book’s antagonists are also women. My original assumption about this book was that it would be groups of men who are looking to capture women to use for reproductivity, but Atwood circumvented this expectation. At first glance it seems unrealistic that women would assist in oppressing their own gender, but similar situations have happened in real as well.
Ginzburg’s “Journey into the Whirlwind” is a historical memoir that follows a Russian woman’s descent from a professor and member of the communist party to a prisoner in a gulag. This first occurred when Stalin took power. He began systematically eliminating opposition by imprisoning people who had the knowledge of communism necessary to question his rule. This included Ginzburg. First the most radical elements of the party were removed, but soon anyone who criticized Stalin at all was being sent to the gulag. This relates to “Future Home of the Living God” when the ethnicity of the newscasters was limited to white men. The people who have a platform to criticize those in power were systematically removed slowly, but deliberately. This sets the stage for pregnant women to be dehumanized as the fringe groups who might have rebelled against the oppressions have already been removed.
There is another motivating factor in that the women who oversee the prisons that house the pregnant women benefit from the structures in place. The Kapos were Jewish prisoners in concentration camps that oversaw making sure other prisoners were in control. The website https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/kapos gives a good overview of this group of people. Because of the Kapos, the SS did not need to have very many guards in the camps. This relates to the nurses in charge of the pregnancy centers. Even though they work there they are just one step away from being in the position of the pregnant women. So, in some ways the women themselves are responsible for their own persecution in the novel. Although a few powerful elites mandated that the pregnant women be captured. It was the self-preservation and complicity of other women that allows this to happen.
In Margaret Atwood’s book The Year of the Flood the virus responsible for the apocalypse is developed by a team of scientists led by Crake. A key theme in the story is the detrimental effect of advancing technology, especially concerning the development of genetic engineering. Throughout the book there are several examples of people using technology to advance their agendas such as the creation of Mo‘Hairs for the purpose of allowing people to easily change their hair. The creation of these animals highlights the use of technology to increase the profit of a corporation at the expense of wildlife. After the Waterless Flood, the Mo‘Hairs mane becomes tangled and twisted and they are impaired from escaping predators. Indeed, for most corporations, the primary goal appears to be to generate profit even at cost of others. This extends to human lives, too, as evidenced by the murder of Toby’s mother at the hands of HealthWyzer. While the use of technology in this way is horrible, it is not the technology’s fault itself. The net result of the technology in the case of both Toby’s mother and the Mo’Hairs is the development of a product that is intended to add value to humanity. It is the decision of the corporation to unethically begin a trial on an unsuspecting participant.
Consider who oversees the technology in the story and how they exercise their power. First individual corporations develop products that generate profit. In the case of HealthWyzer they create supplements that most of the population takes. The technology of pharmaceuticals places the wellbeing of almost every citizen in the hands of a single corporation, and specifically, the top members of that corporation. This is not only true for HealthWyzer, but for Crake’s corporation as well. In this way technology becomes a force multiplier that allows very small groups to drastically effect the entire population. In most cases, the established culture in The Year of the Flood would only wants to generate income with little consideration for human or animal life. However, because of technology, it allows a small fringe terrorist cell or even a single person to annihilate human life as is the case with Crake. This is not the fault of technology as it is only a tool, it does not have morality. Nevertheless, the ramifications of allowing a single person to unilaterally decimate the populations of the world is a natural consequence of advancing technology of any kind and the morality of those who have access to said technology should be considered carefully. Like a fire, technology can both be useful or incredibly destructive.