Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author David Zindell is both worried and optimistic about the future that more widespread possession of nuclear weapons could bring humankind, according to a recent post on his blog.
The author’s certainly thought enough about the idea in his work; both of his major trilogies, A Requiem for Homo Sapiens and The Ea Cycle, deal at times with cataclysmic events that could mean the end of things for humanity and various other alien races. Often it’s only when his characters find the truest expression of themselves as human beings that such disasters are averted.
“I keep trying to take the advice implicit in the title of the greatest movie ever made about the madness of nuclear war: ‘Dr Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” Zindell writes in a blog post in early July.
The author points out that since their invention more than 60 years ago, the world has teetered, a hair’s breadth away, from nuclear disaster as military minds on various sides of the globe toy with the idea of pushing that terminal button once and for all. And the threat’s getting worse by the numbers, with states like North Korea developing their own arsenal.
But, Zindell ends up concluding, there is hope yet. With many governments and countries growing closer through groups such as the European Union, the possibility exists that human society could be moving towards a world federation, similar to that found in the Star Trek Universe. He writes:
“Ilya Prigogine, who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1977, became famous for his work in dissipative structures. These include cyclones, Bénard cells and life itself. They each possess this property: if subjected to a jolt of energy, they have a tendency either to fall apart or to organize themselves at a structure of a higher order. Our world, I think, is like that. And nuclear weapons contain the cosmic energy that will either cause our civilization to fall apart or impel it to reorganize at a higher level.”
If you follow the daily rough and tumble of world (or even local) politics, you’ll probably find Zindell’s musings on the state of nuclear proliferation to be a breath of clean, fresh air.
It’s plain from the author’s work that Zindell (like myself, and this is probably one of the reasons I love his work so much) is an idealist. He believes that it is humanity’s fate, and the fate of individual humans, to grow and develop, to realise our full potential. In both of his major series, there are central characters who search for the means to develop themselves. And of course these ideas are interwoven through his original novel, the famed Neverness, as well.
What Zindell is alluding to in his blog post is that it is often pressure, or stress, that suddenly forces the rapid expansion of consciousness, and that this rapid expansion may be able to be applied to society in general and not just individuals.
We can only pray that he’s right and that humanity will move past our power to destroy ourselves and come together instead.