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Dec. 5th, 2006

High and Low Scifi Literature—The Rules


You reside in a dystopian future in which mankind lives under the boot of an oppressive regime.

How do you start every morning?

Scifi High Lit: Every morning I wake up to the sound of the loudspeakers blaring out rants about the Leader's glories and how we will crush the enemies of our great Land. I pull on my drab grey coverall, make sure my hair hasn't grown more than an eight of an inch overnight, shine up my forehead UPC code, grab my grey lunchbox, and join the masses of my fellow workers on the sidewalks, marching in lockstep to the Work Facility

Scifi Low Lit: After having slick and emotionless sex with my chosen-by-lottery Night Companion Glorianna 37, I slip into a skin-tight primary color unitard, prime my vibro-beam gun, and prepare for another day working on the Cleansing Squad, "retiring" enemies of the state and people who have reached their 19th birthday.


Where do you work?

Scifi High Lit: I spend my days in a dingy, grease-smeared office operating a steam-operated computron device (don't ask me where the grease came from), while fluorescent lights flicker overhead and the Leader's recordings tell us to work harder for the glories of the Land. My job is pretty simple. I erase photos and articles about former heroes of the Revolution, now purged by the Leader, from old newspapers... Uh, you didn't hear that from me.


Scifi Low Lit: The Humano-Nutrient Processing Plant on the outskirts of town. It's weird, but there seem to be more people going into the plant in the morning than leaving at night. Huh? Whattya know about that? (Whisper) I wish they'd fix it so the soy beans don't scream as much when they're pushed through the Bone-Mangler™.


What do you do for fun?

Scifi High Lit: Ten minute hates, rereading party doctrine, accepting contradictory propaganda, and a futuristic form of Ping Pong without paddles, or a ball, or a table... Actually, I think it's called "Standing Quietly in the Recreation Room."


Scifi Low Lit: Dispassionate communal orgies, watching Deathrace or Rollerball, fighting bald gunslinging robots, listening to Moog and Theremin music while gazing at my gigantic lava lamp under the influence of Somnambutol™, taking my daily Stupordity™ pill, and calling literate people perverts while burning their copies of David Copperfield, Billie Holiday LPs, and Klimt posters.


When did you first realize that things might not be so good in a fascistic future state after all?


Scifi High Lit: My buddy was caught reading Candide, so, naturally, they set the dobermans on him, tortured him until he admitted on TV that he sodomized a handmaid and tried to give the Leader gonorrhea, then let the local preschoolers tear him limb from limb. That seemed... wrong somehow.


Scifi Low Lit: Happy birthday TO me... Happy birthday to ME... Plus, I had the hots for this cute chick in my division, but our love did not compute.


How do you "stick it to The Man™"?

Scifi High Lit: (Looks both ways) [whisper] I hide in the single cubbyhole of my room, just out of the camera's sight, and write outrageous things, "like two plus two equals five" and "I'd like ANOTHER pudding cup for dessert. Dammit." in my journal. I also secretly hold pinky fingers with my forbidden lover Olivia of the Bureau of Eugenics during stonings.


Scifi Low Lit: Dragging my LoveBot® along as I fight my way through hordes of AssassinDroids™ with my Phaseblaster™ to escape PleazzureDome™ and prove to my hoodwinked brethren that DeathFestival™ is wrong! MotherCom®™ has lied to us all these years!


What inevitably happens to you?

Scifi High Lit: Oh, they catch me, and after waterboarding me and attaching a rat cage to my privates for three days I crack and name my five accomplices in spreading VD, monkeywrenching factories, and passing out propaganda by Prime Enemy of the State Shlomo Goldfine Birnbaum. Funny. I don't remember having accomplices, but I guess Leader knows best. I love Leader. Lovelovelovelove Him! Wotta guy!

Scifi Low Lit: I hurl the 120 Meg Mackintosh Hammer at Leader's computerized image, revealing a candy-coated paradise of happy sunlight, pine trees, waterfalls, and gamboling deer and bunnies outside. My brethren joyfully follow me outside as MotherCom®™ slowly winds down while saying in decreasing pitch, "DOES NOT COMPUTE! DOES NOT COMPUTE! HUMANITY IS IN ERRORRRRRRRR..." Eventually we all die of exposure to ultraviolet radiation since living in the dome has made our flesh as thin as Kleenex. Some of us survive and become bloodthirsty savages, I think. Actually, things weren't so bad before. Shit.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
momus
Dec. 5th, 2006 05:31 pm (UTC)
Low Lit seems much more fun.
wanderingaengus
Dec. 5th, 2006 08:23 pm (UTC)
I recently read Perdido Street Station, and I think you nailed it pretty well. It's got low-brow pretensions -- scary monsters, professional adventurers-for-hire -- but it just can't escape that high-brow ghetto.
matthardwick
Dec. 7th, 2006 10:28 am (UTC)
You forgot Scifi MidLit, a genre that goes from Pohland Kornbluth (Gladiator-At-Law and the Space Merchants meet the Marching Morons on the Gravy Planet of MidasWorld The Day After The Day The Martians Came) to at least Norm Spinrad (Jack Barron, a Child Of Fortune, and the Little Heroes play the Big Flash Mind Games with The Men In The Jungle. Pictures At 11)...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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