20 de novembro de 2013

David Brin: Lazy directors and authors routinely portray our fellow citizens as sheep or fools or useless. But that’s just wrong. (entrevista)

Dando continuidade à excelente série de entrevistas que tem publicado no blogue da Amazing Stories, R. K Troughton esteve à conversa com David Brin - autor de clássicos da ficção científica como o universo de Uplift e livros como The Postman, Earth, Kiln People ou Existence. Cientista de formação e optimista por natureza, Brin assume uma atitude muito crítica da actual vaga distópica que tem marcado a ficção científica contemporânea. Dois excertos:
R. K. Troughton/Amazing Stories: Speaking of movies. Famously, Kevin Costner made your novel The Postman into a major motion picture. While the big budget film managed to maintain a few strands of your original masterpiece, it lacked the insight and depth of your novel. The Campbell committee and the Locus voters named it the best science fiction novel published that year. For those that have not read the novel, tell us a few of the wonderful things we can find beneath its cover.

David Brin: (...) I have always believed that, even after a horrid holocaust, most people would recall a better world. They would dream of it nightly. Yearn for it daily. Second only to feeding their children, they would have but one agenda in mind — to bring that world back. The gentle comforts, the trade and reciprocity and shared values and tolerance and peace… and dentistry. The Postman is about a wanderer in such a devastated world, who tells a lie in order to be fed. Only the lie takes on more power than he ever imagined, turning him into a symbol for all those yearnings. The focus of determination of a once-free people to become free, once again. 
It is this matter of People… the citizens and neighbors who are routinely slandered in modern films and novels and yes, in sci fi as well, that I wanted to answer. Lazy directors and authors routinely portray our fellow citizens as sheep or fools or useless. But that’s just wrong. It is a poisonous message that I confronted in a rather widely circulated essay about “the idiot plot.” (...)

R. K. Troughton/ Amazing Stories: Take us back to the late 70s, when you were first working on Sundiver. How did the Uplift Universe develop, and what inspired it?

David Brin: From its very beginnings, science fiction has been transfixed by the eerie notion that human beings may someday pick up the Creator’s toolkit and start “making life,” even new kinds of intelligent life. Robots and super-smart computers make up part of this tradition, but there is another side. Perhaps the most important “technology” ever discovered was the domestication of animals to serve human purposes. Ever since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, countless science fiction tales dealt with our ongoing temptation to meddle with other creatures. Many authors such as H.G. Wells, Pierre Boule, Mary Shelly, and Cordwainer Smith explored the concept of of “uplift” — genetically engineering other animals to bring them into our civilization with human-level powers of thought. Most of those writers hewed to the same story-line, suggesting that this process would be abused by madmen who impose a slave-master relationship on the newly risen beings.

These were good stories — cautionary tales that helped mold the attitudes of modern civilization. But after more than a century, the plot seems a bit repetitious and overdone. Nowadays, would such a project realistically be run by mad scientists? In creating the Uplift Universe, I thought I’d try a different tack. What if we begin modifying higher animals — and I think we clearly will — guided by the morality of modern liberal society? Filled with stylish hyper-tolerance and guilt-ridden angst? Would we be in danger of killing our clients with kindness?

One needn’t picture slavery in order to sympathize with the plight of these new kinds of sapient beings. They would face real problems, even if they are treated well. Interesting problems, worthy of a story or two.

Setting this exploration in a far-future background involving aliens seemed only natural. It let me explore a lot of variations on the same theme. There are as many ways to treat uplifted beings as there are ways that parents treat children… some of them sick, or wholesome, or simply a question of style. Anyway, the question is not whether we’ll take on these powers, but when. In the long run, we’ll be better prepared if we’ve thought about it well in advance. Science fiction can play a role.
Esta excelente entrevista pode (e deve) ser lida na íntegra aqui.

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