- Dr. Timothy X. Merritt
Alternative Futures: Threats and New Hope
Appendix B to Alternative Futures describes a world in which a catastrophic event is immanent. The emphasis is on how national or supranational governmental organizations collaborate to address the impending crisis. The private sector is barely relevant, and the individual is only seen as heroic when they sacrifice for the greater common good.
In this archetype, no significant change affects mankind, and human life conditions are very similar to the present. However, an imminent catastrophic or apocalyptic event or phenomenon threatens mankind's existence. This impending occurrence can take various forms, including environmental disasters, man-made destructions, or aliens’ invasion. National and supranational governmental bodies or military organizations collaborate to devise a global plan of rescue, while the private sector is less relevant. Individuals sacrifice their personal wealth, affections, and even their lives for the common good in order to save the world as humanity is united to fight a common enemy. (Fergnani & Song, 2020, p. 9)
Imminent catastrophic or apocalyptic event: 9 examples out of 9 novels examined = 100%
Descriptions Summarized: With nine books in the sample, Threats and New Hopes represents the largest category of the novels examined. This category could be considered the "most popular," and it would be interesting to compare sales data to see if there is any correlation between the number of books represented and their popular appeal. All of the books featured (100%) an imminent catastrophic event. However, the nature of the events varied wildly from time travel to aliens, an artificial black hole, AI, genetic manipulation, nanotechnology.
National and supranational governmental bodies or military organizations collaborate: 11 examples out of 9 novels examined = 120%
Descriptions Summarized: The role of national and supranational governmental bodies for addressing catastrophic events dominates this category. The roles of the governments, global corporations, and the one billionaire that are portrayed in these books alternate between good and evil, with the majority of the portrayals leaning toward evil. In all instances, the severity and magnitude of the crisis require the absolute highest level of authority.
The private sector is less relevant: 1 example out of 9 novels examined = 11%
Descriptions Summarized: There is only a single example of the private sector mentioned in any of the books examined. But even this was in a passing reference that compared the lives of the masses against the wealth of the elite. Small problems do not seem to be viewed as significant.
Individuals sacrifice for the common good: 7 examples out of 9 novels examined = 78%
Descriptions Summarized: Consistent with the overarching theme of the importance of the centralization of power is the idea of individual sacrifice for the greater good. In this category of science fiction, the role of the individual is seen in the context of the larger events happening (typically) on a global scale.
Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: choosing among five approaches. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, c2013.
Fergnani, A. & Song, Z. (2020). The six scenario archetypes framework: A systematic investigation of science fiction films set in the future. Futures, (124, 102645) ISSN 0016-3287, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2020.102645
Merritt, T. (2022). Imagining the future: The rapid classification of fiction archetypes. ResearchGate, (PDF) Imagining the Future: The rapid classification of fiction archetypes (researchgate.net)
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