Friday, February 11, 2011

The Existential Future May Feature Rollerskates

I recently re-watched Norman Jewison’s 1975 existential SF classic “Rollerball” and as I did so, I became aware that its future world, set in 2018 is getting rather close. I also realized how today’s reality was actually yesterday’s fictionalized future. The whole set-up of Rollerball player Jonathan E [James Caan] working for ‘The Energy Corporation’, in a world of depleted energy reserves and global instability made the TV images of the worldwide economic instability, war on terror and media control resonate in my mind, like the chimes of the plague bell.

It also made me fearful of the future, as I contemplated where we’re headed.

There are many existential risks that have, and still continue to threaten our species and our way of life. Some of these risks are edging away from the domain of the ‘existential’ into the ‘real’. I spend a lot of time reading; and thinking; and observing reality and then joining the dots I see peppering in front of my line of sight. The more dots I see, and the closer I look, the dots start to converge and a picture comes into focus. The view I see from my vantage point is not pretty.

One must always remember that ‘the observer’ actually plays a part upon ‘the situation’ as it plays out. The observer will always be part of the action, and influences the outcome, even if the only action the observer undertakes, is to purely ‘observe’. Two simple experiments that prove this axiom are –

On the macro-level [a] ‘The Hawthorne Effect’ and at the quantum-level [b] ‘The Double Slit Experiment’.

When you distill our current situation of over-population, resource depletion, coupled to [a] the logical failure of the ‘growth engine’ [to keep capitalism sustaining ‘our way of life’] and [b] the failure to understand ‘human nature’ that makes communist / socialist systems unworkable – then the view of the future is bleak, very bleak.

When you consider the nature of reality, and our possible futures, the following scenarios come into play -

Future [1] Becoming ‘more than human’
We see technological convergence creating faster and faster innovation which will lead to a technological singularity and a post-human future. In this scenario we will augment our bodies / minds with technology, and become ‘more than human’. This has started.

Click Here to understand and prepare for this future, but our rapidly depleting oil reserves may prevent this future from happening. We have less than ten years to become post-human, otherwise it will be too late as we slide down the oil curve.

Future [2] Economic Collapse
You should view this video ‘Oil, Smoke and Mirrors’ which was released in 2006 and explains that we have now reached a global ‘peak oil’ situation, and that under-pinning all the global economic problems, global wars, terrorism, famines etc lies the ‘elephant in the room’ – the world has reached the peak on the curve of oil production vs. demand. ‘Collapse’ featuring Michael Ruppert is worth watching as is Oil Crash : A Crude Awakening, but be warned these films are terrifying. We have ten years of troubling problems while we bump along the peak, then the slide starts at the end of the decade, and then it will be really ‘interesting’.

Future [3] Extinction Event
Reading Sir Martin Rees’ book ‘Our Final Century’ [aka ‘Our Final Hour’ in US] will explain this threat rationally, and also answer the question posed by the Fermi Equation or the paradox of “why is the universe eerily silent?” Because there is an inevitability in the evolution of life, in that it will naturally lead to a civilization destroying itself by its own hand, or the hand of nature be it viruses, meteorite impact, solar storm, or the sun’s light being blocked by ash. The life-span of an intelligent civilization from inception to collapse is a blink of an eye, when placed against the eons of time that the universe exists within.

Future [4] Simulated Reality
Many people believe that we are living in a ‘simulation’, or experiencing a holographic projection sent from an Event Horizon [the edge of a black hole], or just one plane of reality from an infinite multiverse. In these scenarios, we are still at risk of the previous possible futures, because the brain can not differentiate between ‘reality’ and ‘simulation’, as many think both these terms are the same in terms of practicality. Even if we are in a hologram, or a simulated reality, the fact is that we’re running out of oil [even if it is simulated into an artificial reality].

So does the future feature rollerskates?

Personally I feel that the real [no longer existential] threat is closer than we think and is posed by a pincer movement of ‘oil depletion’ coupled to the darker side of ‘human nature’. To this end, my memory took me back to the 1970’s and an interesting film called ‘Rollerball’ starring James Caan, which prompted this article.

William Harrison wrote the novella / short story ‘Roller Ball Murder’ which first appeared in 1973 in Esquire Magazine. It was first filmed in 1975 by Director Norman Jewison and scripted by William Harrison and was a critical and commercial success, set in a troubled 2018. I won’t mention the 2002 version as that was an embarrassing and shoddy remake [that had none of the political and philosophical dimensions that made the original story and film so interesting].

I’m not the only one who has noticed the portents that Rollerball raises -

Last week saw a couple of events which highlighted how cynical we have become towards Government. The 9th anniversary of 9/11 and the publication of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's autobiography. In his book Blair defends his reasons for committing Britain to the War In Iraq, yet a lot of the British public still think him a war criminal. Of course, the reason for the invasion, a supposed defense against WMD was never substantiated. Likewise, it seems an increasing amount of people are questioning the official version of events on 9/11. The invasion of Iraq has given people enough reason to doubt what they are being told and it has led to a general disenchantment of politics and old political systems. There is an air of conspiracy in these times we live in. We no longer seem to trust authority.

Rollerball, set in a not too distant future, pictures a cold society that is run and controlled by corporate companies. Imagine if you will Fox News Corporation governing our lives (not too hard to imagine). The corporations in Rollerball supply all the news, control all the information and tell us how to live and think. Jonathan E (James Caan) is a hero to the people as he is the star athlete of the ultra-violent Corporation controlled sport Rollerball, a cross between American Football, Rally Cross and Basketball. The Corporation have asked Jonathan E to retire from the sport as they see him as becoming too powerful and of setting too an individualistic example. Jonathan E refuses to retire from the sport leading to direct confrontation with The Corporation.

Read More

I would suggest you re-watch Norman Jewison’s 1975 ‘Rollerball’. It was spawned with a cynical eye amid a slew of other films [from that era] with conspiratorial themes in mind, such as ‘Winter Kills’, ‘The Parallax View’, ‘All The President’s Men’. Now close to 30 years on, the dark-side of human nature has not changed, but what is frightening is that were speedily running out of oil, and that readers, is the real game changer to our reality.
Intead of looking at solutions, because there are none, despite what you hear about electric cars and ethanol - our media will continue to distract the populace from this looming catastrophe, by feeding us inane stories about z-list celebrities, and reality TV as they calmly rearrange the deck-chairs as the ship’s angle starts to tilt down the slope, and all the while the bands will play on.
Our libraries and bookstores are closing making reading, and therefore ‘informed thinking’ rarer. Coupled to time constraints we all face, we haven’t the time / energy or ability to question, to debate, so we will accept what the mainstream media feed us. People are getting anxious about their jobs, xenophobia, terrorism and what Jordan is wearing so the elites in control, can plan for the chaos that will ensue with the era of ‘no oil’.

Then again I am an observer, and therefore part of the situation that is playing out around me, and so I’m contemplating taking roller-skating lessons.

So should you.

Enjoy the weekend, but start to really observe the reality you see around you. Do not accept what you are feed by the mainstream media. Even if you feel powerless when viewing the impending catastrophe coming [when the oil barrels run dry] - remember the begining of this article, the observer plays a part in the situation as it unfolds, so open your eyes and observe.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Shots Ring Out!

With the closure of so many bookstores in the UK and US, pressure on the library systems and a general two-pincer attack from the ‘economy’ and ‘new technology’, publishing is having a very rough time.

The loss of libraries and bricks-and-mortar bookstores will make it harder for authors and publishers to get their works noticed by the public. This will have a terrible effect on literacy, something that worries me as reading helps people ‘think’ and remain informed.

I am therefore very pleased at the hard work, my friend and Shots Editor Mike Stotter with the whole Shots Team have been undertaking, re-vamping the Shots Ezine website. I have particular admiration for our webmasters, Tony ‘Grog’ Roberts, Gary Cane and newcomer Richard Orchard for their hard-work migrating the vast archives to the ‘new site’ and their continual updating.

Shots Blog incidentally is rated No #5 in the top Mystery / Thriller Blogs by Best Colleges Online, special thanks goes to the hard working Ayo Onatade for her continual updates, helping Mike and I out, and keeping you all posted on crime & thriller news.

If you’ve not been to Shots Ezine for a while, it’s worth a click of the mouse, to read the regular columnists Mike Ripley, Peter Guttridge, Mike Carlson, Robin Jarossi and the army of contributors that make the site so exciting.

If you are interested in contributing, or perhaps interested in advertising contact Mike Stotter in the first instance by email : and if you have a news story for our social network coordinator, email Ayo at