Skip to content

Ask A Genius 595: A Book Cometh By Way of Thought


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen and Rick Rosner

Publication (Outlet/Website): Ask A Genius

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/07/04

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Okay, so, what are you thinking along the lines of, on the one hand just giving up on humanity versus trying to uplift or bring people into kind of this science fiction in near future that is likely on the…

Rick Rosner: So, I’m writing this novel set in the near future. And the main character in the novel is part of a large tech enterprise. And is in the middle of changes that are going on with regard to just stuff that is in the middle of the ongoing tech revolution. And if writing about this, the near future and about this character, I have to think about what will happen to, well, humanity in the near future as well as in the medium future. And there’s been a theme or a trend in science fiction for a long time, at least as far back as H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.

Jacobsen: Which is a great movie and book.

Rosner: Several pretty good movies. It tries to present the very far future. A future, I don’t know hundred thousand years from now, and then I think we get a peek at the future many millions of years from now. But the more fleshed out version of the far future is, maybe a couple of hundred thousand years from now, when humanity has split into Eloi and Morlocks. And Eloi are like fairies. They’re very physically fragile. They live on the surface. They flit around. They’re not good at stuff. They’re just like kind of cute little fairy creatures. And then the Morlocks live underground. I haven’t read this in a gazillion years. And they do all the work, maintaining whatever technology remains. And they come to the surface, I think, and capture and eat Eloi.

So anyway, you’ve got the trolls underground and you got the little fairies above ground. And that’s a very early, I don’t know what, 1910, 1920 version of humanity bifurcating into two different forms, two different species. And then more recently in the Trump era, you’ve got books like Neil Stevenson’s Fall and books by Cory Doctorow, like Charles Stross and Doctorow wrote Rapture of the Nerds, probably more than 20 years ago. Now that has America having been split into Jesus land and then, like technologically advanced areas, it kind of takes you on a tour of the various fragments of America.

And kind of the theme in some of these books is that some segments of humanity might be beyond help, beyond saving. That the vast majority of the people in the fallen lands or Jesus land are turning into savages and are being left behind. Mostly as a matter of their own doing as they fall for propaganda that sells them deranged versions of the world that they form their own insular populations. And it’s tough to get out of there and join the rest of the world. And the rest of the world doesn’t really want to deal with these insular populations because they’re insane and dangerous and violent and dumb. So it’s an issue in my book too, and I haven’t come up with any, I don’t think deeper insight than some of these other people have come up with.

But it’s hard to tell whether to what extent the current malaise, Jimmy Carter gave a speech about the national malaise back in 1977, 1978. And it was among the reasons he didn’t get reelected because he gave a fairly pessimistic speech. He says, we need to get our shit together. We need to address the challenges of today. And we need to drive smaller cars. We need to save energy. And then Reagan came along and said, its morning in America and everything’s great. And SUVs originated under Reagan. These big ass vehicles. And people like that better than Carter, Carter’s national malaise. But anyway, our current malaise with Republicans being a deranged political party and trying to pass, attempted to pass 400 laws, individual states to suppress voting.

And by voter suppression, we mean people who would vote Democratic, black people, non-rich people. But it’s hard to tell whether the current malaise is more of a blip or whether it’s an ongoing trend and whether the insanity of a quarter of the U.S. adult population is a temporary aberration or just an ongoing thing that’s going to continue to be a problem and even more of a problem as the potential for a technological gap grows. I mean, given some of the technology that is coming, you don’t have to be a dumb redneck to be fearful and intimidated. So I guess my money would be on the technological gap, the intellectual gap. That all these gaps are going to be persistent and troublesome.

So I mean in the 14th century, the gaps among people, I mean, they were significant. On the one hand, you could be a king or a queen. On the other hand, you could be somebody who lives in a mud hut. But they were nowhere, but still everybody was like medicine didn’t work in the 14th century. There was no air conditioning. There were no cars, no telephones. There was not a lot of stuff. So the gap between the richest and the poorest. I mean it was significant. But it left many areas of life still basically equal. Everybody died like crazy because medicine didn’t work. But in the year 2050, the potential for some people having great medicine that extends their lives almost indefinitely and other people dying even younger on average than they do now because they’re stuck in relative poverty and relative ignorance.

I just saw a statistic today that of the one third of Americans who haven’t yet been vaccinated, 74 percent say they will not get vaccinated. So what three quarters of one third is like one quarter of Americans are vaccine resistant, which for the first time I think ever the average life expectancy in America has declined for several years in a row. I think its setting records, the declining lifespans and whatever. But like, the decline in life expectancy is not evenly distributed among Americans. It falls on the poor, the dumb, the despairing. It’s not just COVID that kills a shitload of people. I think opioid overdoses, I think, has over the past 12 years killed half a million Americans.

So anyway, the potential for greater and greater divides among different populations, I don’t think that’s going away. And people in the future who have the power to decide how much resources, how many resources are going to be devoted to bringing people along to uplifting people will, as they are now, be forced to triage or will prefer to triage. Various organizations and individuals and governments will be making decisions in the future about how hard to push to bring the dumbest, the poorest, the most belligerent, the most insane of us to try to get them out of their dumb propagandized funk.

Except there is the addendum. Rupert Murdoch, the guy who created Fox News. And it seems like it’s been around forever, but I think it’s only been around for about twenty-five years. Rupert Murdoch is ninety. And you could make the case that he’s done more damage to humanity than any other living person. Maybe any other person ever, given the number of people he’s impacting. He also happens to be married to Mick Jagger’s ex-wife, Jerry Hall, which is insane. She’s a former supermodel. And this old evil fuck he’s married to. He’s ninety and he’s still out there, still pushing Fox News to do more damage. All right, the end.

[End of recorded material]


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: