Fake News and Incorrect Prognosticators

I’m tired of it. Headlines screaming out facts that aren’t true or are heavily biased. Same with mouthy broadcasters trying to make their mark or air controversial opinions. I also wish the politicians would quit trying to destroy each other and get on with making America better.

Notice I’m not going for great… merely better.

I wish other countries would stop preying on the gullibility of Americans. I’m not even sure the article claiming Macedonian teenagers created fake news to make big money and influence the vote isn’t fake itself. Although it has the ring of believability about it. Not so much the Indian accented guy who wants to help me fix my computer.

And my eyes keep crossing when I sit across a table and hear the other person assure me of what a well known person is going to do or what event will destroy us all, as if they had insight into the future. They need glasses.

From pollsters who assured us that Hillary would win, to market analysts who predicted a market crash if Trump won, to people on the street who were sure that ObamaCare was over–every one of those pontificating prophets were wrong.

No wonder I don’t believe anyone any more.

It’s just as bad in the publishing world as big publishing floats desperate “facts” either including them in serious sounding articles or whispering rumors into the ears of gullible authors.

Joel Friedlander, another excellent blogger who you should put on your must read list, addresses the truth versus fiction in the publishing world.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2017/04/fake-news-self-publishing/

Fake news busted. Now if we could only sort out the politicians.

This week I read The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuinn. This is the required book for the Powell’s April reading group. LeGuinn is a well known local author living here in Portland since 1959. Back when science fiction was regarded as mostly pulp fiction, Ms. LeGuinn stood the genre on its head with her work. Using the medium of science fiction, her stories explore politics, society, gender, and other hot topics with a critical eye. She put a bright literary polish on what had been considered lowbrow fiction. She has won the Hugo Award, The Nebula Award, the Locus, World Fantasy and others, each more than once. My favorite of all her novels is The Lathe of Heaven, a unique novel of dreams versus reality.

In the the Dispossessed, Urras is the origin planet that runs on capitalism fueled by greed. It is opulent, corrupt and rich in resources. Back in Urras’s past, a band of anarchists escaped to her moon, Anarres, to set up their own socialist society and separate from the inequalities of the prevailing system. A wall of hate sprung up between the two.

Life on the Anarres is hard scrabble. The barren moon has to be coached to provide sustenance to its inhabitants. Everything is shared and under the philosophy of Odo, the greater good trumps the individual. Choices are limited and often not real choice. Years may separate a husband and wife as each is sent where the need is greatest according to their skills. Sacrifice is the mindset.

Shevek is a brilliant scientist on the verge of discovery. Several important scientists believe he is close to discovering the math for faster than light travel. He writes a thesis, but his department head, Sabul, who has access to the University’s printing press, will only approve and print the paper if his name goes on as a co-author with Shevek.

Shevek decides to go to Urras to break down the walls of mistrust between the two worlds, not realizing the ulterior motives beneath the welcoming smiles of the professors and leaders of the University there. Shevek is a scientist, who understands quantum theory and formulas, but not people.

The story starts with him taking off on his journey to Urras and contains interesting details on traveling through space. He is the only person to visit the planet since the exodus, and goes through a bit of cultural shock after he arrives. He is not used to the lush greenery and is startled by the singing birds, wealthy clothes, and wide variety of rich food.

The narrative jumps back and forth between present and past, revealing Shevek’s earlier life and struggles. The novel becomes a treatise on socialism versus capitalism as Shevek tries to create understanding but only causes a revolution.

Both societies suffer under LeGuinn’s sharp microscope. Both are flawed.

By the time I finished, I’d had enough of serious politics, and my next read will be strictly frivolous fantasy.

So there. Be warned.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Fake News and Incorrect Prognosticators

  1. I liked The Dispossessed, but you are right that it’s a dense, serious read. Time for some fun, Sheron. 🙂

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  2. claytonjcallahan

    Sheron, I hear you. Glenn Beck has even made a point lately of telling pundits on the left and right to tone it down. And you’re right, no one can tell the future. That’s what makes it so scary and fascinating at the same time. That’s one strong reason I like your fiction. You’re future is one I’d like to live in.

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    • Aww…Thanks for the comment. The future is amazing and never quite what I expect. Often it’s a good thing. Then there’s the wake up call and we feel mortal.

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  3. It’s an excellent book with a good study of two different societies. I just overloaded on politics and went on a rant. Sorry. 🙂

    Butterflies and unicorns next…or maybe werewolves and vampires. Something Ann Bishop different.

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