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It Came From Outer Space

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Published on May 31, 2011

As the dawn of the space age would forage a new frontier of possibilities, the human imagination sought to foretell the limitless future that lay ahead. Post- modern prophets and oracles mused over man's ability to handle this new power, or how this power would shape and reveal human nature. Worldly concepts of the time were projected into a futuristic universe. Humanistic ideals such as morality,heroism, or egoism were applied to a futuristic or technological context. Social commentators utilized science fiction as a means for exposing the nature of society. Behind the campy symbols of scifi is an allegory that reflects cultural zeitgeists. As science fiction of the past depicted natural terrors, such as large, scary monsters, technological advancements would open up a wealth of questions for scifi writers worldwide. Events such as the creation of the atomic bomb, as well as the moon landing, caused many to fear the direction man was headed.

The specific and unique elements of science fiction, such as the presence of advanced technology, extraterrestrial subject, inhuman abilities, and a confused or futuristic time setting, collaborate effectively to convey a message of fear and warning. As scientific innovation rapidly became the focal point of the 20th century society, power, through progression and achievement, was evident and envisioned. Engineering led by NASA and the U.S. Military was incredibly sophisticated at the time of its public appearance, which commanded a sense of awe and alarm caused by images of magnificent force and destruction. The Cold War, an arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union, was the leaving fear that the public foresaw. The introduction of extraterrestrial matter, along with superhuman powers, created a fantasy and wonderment of a future society that was founded upon scientific advancement. Within science fiction images of aliens and monsters and certain abilities that defied present scientific principles and evidence supported public speculation of an uncontrollable, progressing society. The element of a misunderstood, and often futuristic time setting captures the culmination of the entire science fiction movement. With a blurred sense of time and relation, one is essentially lost; describing the public of the 20th century. The speedy establishment of technological advancement became the basis for the era of hypothesized future of man.

Vonnegut used fantasy and science fiction to examine the horrors and absurdities of 20th century civilization. His constant concern about the effects of technology on humanity led critics to consider him a science fiction writer, but the author himself rejected this label. The abundance of hackjob scifi magazines, b-movies, and deadbeat pulp writers created a stigma behind science fiction, which would prevent it from fair examination by scholarly literature criticism. Vonnegut's first novel, PLAYER PIANO, portrayed a futuristic setting with his signature dark humor. The story depicts scientists and engineers of vast corporations setting out to automate everything. As a result, the functions of human beings are gradually taken over by machines. Such a story highlights the deadly combination of power and indifference of technology, and heads a warning regarding the relationship between man and technology. Additionally, Vonnegut warned that man's dependence on technology would be used to control society, and collectively dumb-down the population.

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