I cam across a great quote of Jack McDeviit during an interview that I would like to share with you all here:
Tim O’Shea: Back in 2005, in excerpts from a Locus Online interview of you, you admitted: “I’m worried about what’s happening in the United States now with the right wing.” How much would you say the political climate of the world inspires some of your fiction (if at all)? Are you more or less worried about the United States these days?
Jack McDevitt: It’s four years ago. I suspect I was thinking about the tendency of the right to substitute flag-waving for thought. The primary responsibility of a citizen in a democracy is to keep informed, and to recognize that authority figures of whatever political stripe need to be watched. And controled. An extreme example came when the President took us to war without presenting any evidence. I will never forget JFK going on TV when he was getting ready to impose the Cuban missile blockade. Here are the photos. There are the missile sites. These are the capabilities that these missiles will have. Etc. We never saw any of that from Bush. Trust me. Let’s go get Saddam. The Republicans, who are now so concerned about waste, got in line. And the Democrats, with few exceptions, put political expediency before the nation’s welfare, and also climbed on board. Then, after we’d killed God knows how many innocent Arabs –Remember Shock and Awe?–, we re-elected the administration. Before the world, the American people showed their approval of what we’d done.
I don’t know to what degree current politics inspires my work. History is full of halfwits in power. Tom Paine points out that the British generals during the Revolution were killing people –and getting their own soldiers killed– because a moron had told them to do so. On the other hand, sometimes you get quality leaders. It happens. But not always. And it’s why we need to watch people in power. It’s why we shouldn’t claim we stand for freedom of speech while simultaneously demanding that a singing group be boycotted because they’ve taken a stand, whether we approve of the stand or not.
We live in a dangerous world. Loose nukes, runaway population growth, tribalism, climate change, crazy people who think it’s a good idea to kill unbelievers. Two years ago, I attended a NASA/SETI conference seeking to answer the question why SETI has, in fifty years, never heard a peep. It might be because civilization breeds technology and technology increases vulnerability while making lethal weaponry available to lunatics. I think the U.S., at present, especially needs an objective, talented, hard-driving media. Objectivity is especially hard to come by. I don’t even trust my own any more.
The full interview can be found here.
As I have said before, I try to leave any political opinions that I have off this blog because that isn’t what this blog is about. Having said that, there is an undeniable connection between war and art – people write about what they know. This can be seen in great works such as 1984, The Stand, etc. Luckily, the opposite is also true – there is an undeniable connection between love and art, just look at Soup Opera’s, romance novels, and Dr. Ruth. I think the point should be that good writing should always serve as a warning to never let things get this bad, and, in the case of many science fiction novels, this is true. When art turns into reality is when you know you’re in trouble. . . unless it is a romance novel.