Saturday, January 28, 2006

Science Fiction - "The Futurological Congress"

This is another one of Stanislaw Lem's Ijon Tichy stories. In this one Ijon Tichy attends a Futurological Congress in Costa Rica. While there a revolution breaks out and various hallucinogenic chemicals are used to subdue the revolting population. As Tichy is exposed to various chemicals, after a while we cannot tell what is imaginary and what is real. There are walking rats, rockets packs etc.

Eventually it appears that Tichy is frozen and revived in a future (year 2039) world where everything is controlled by psychem. There are drugs for everything. If you need to feel happy you take a pill - no one dares to have un-chemical emotions.

The funny and frustrating thing about this book that when describing the world of the future, Lem goes insane with making up new words. Some of these are obvious puns or somewhat logical names for new drugs, other are completely arbitrary.

At one point in the story Ijon Tichy discusses how futurology operates in this world with a professor of the subject. The way futuroligists work is to randomly generate new words and then attempt to assign meanings to them. This got me thinking about how language changes due to technological changes, and how incomprehensible it would be to someone from the past.

What would you think when someone told you 30 years ago: "If you want to hear the song, just google the lyric, download the mp3 and put it on your iPod".


At 6:32 AM, Anonymous e leeper said...

Of course, if you saw it, it wouldn't be
"If you want to hear the song, just google the lyric, download the mp3 and put it on your iPod"." It would be more like:
"if u want 2 hear ..."


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