Thursday, September 6, 2012

Speaking of Prequels ...



Did you ever read this book when you were young? The Girl Who Owned a City,
By O.T. Nelson.
It’s about the aftermath of a plague that kills off everyone over the age of twelve. Sound familiar? Can anyone who’s ever watched the Season One Episode, “Miri” of Star Trek: TOS say “prequel “? I must admit, I really never even thought about that possibility until just recently. The events depicted in this book, which is aimed at young teenagers, could have easily happened before those seen in “Miri.”
The book was written in the mid-seventies, long after “Miri” had 1st aired, but still when “Trek” was in reruns. Its focus is not about how the plague itself began at all. No, in fact, very little back story is given (unlike, “Miri”). (  Dystopian works are often classified generically as science fiction ,  because a fictional universe has to be constructed, and a selectively told backstory  of some past  disaster is often introduced early in the book, because “the story” typically depicts events that take place in the future.)
This story, is mostly about how a society might? evolve after a catastrophe,  where the young  are forced to form a society “from scratch”,  by looting and building  a militia, armed with guns, Molotov cocktails, and primitive weapons. ( In “Miri” we see a city that is in a complete state of decay and ruins.) According to an article written for teachers by Jennifer Kemper at Yahoo, it mostly deal’s with mankind's inherent characteristics and how different individuals will react to conflict ( or approach a chaotic situation) when authority is not present, and highlights different viewpoints on the overall nature of man. I personally think this is a “slice of life” story, (the “ending” drops off without any real resolution, and since a cure to “the plague” was never addressed , nor a solution found, all the character’s introduced in this story, regardless of what they did or did not do, are bound to have very short lives anyway.  Or are they?

Nelson himself has stated that his intent in writing the novel was to translate the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand ( a Russian-American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, turned philosopher) into terms children could understand.  Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and flat out rejected all forms of faith and religion. Rand's fiction was poorly received by many literary critics, and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy. I wonder why?
 Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was Rand's magnum opus.   The plot involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists and artists go on strike and retreat into the mountains and hideaway there, in order to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. This advocates the core of her philosophy’s and expresses her concepts of human achievements.