* Spoilers ahead: this is your final warning.
I still hold that re-reading the Dune (Frank Herbert) and Foundation (Isaac Asimov) series back to back was a great idea. Admittedly, the acute paranoia that someone has been lacing my food with mélange isn’t entirely pleasant (and I keep wondering if various inanimate objects in the house are “conscious”… are you there Spinoza?), but even these unfortunate side effects of science fiction overload can’t negate the value of this literary juxtaposition: Asimov and Herbert both want to save humanity, but their methods could not be more different.
Okay, first question– save from what?
The imminent robot uprising, alien invasion, the end of the Mayan calendar, Benjamin Linus– maybe. But if you’re following the rapidly-growing support for “greenness” today, the more likely answer might be Global Warming (read: ourselves). Here’s a recent MasterCard commercial which pretty much sums it up.
Or one could be less subtle, like the late Edward Abbey (more on him later), who wrote in his book Desert Solitaire that “Nature’s polluted, man in every secret corner of her doing damned, wicked deeds.”
So assuming that’s the threat to humankind– total destruction of our planet’s natural resources (and if you’re not a global warming true believer, just pretend it’s a Death Star killing the planet, deal?)– science fiction gives us two pretty distinct options:
1. Unite with planet. I won’t use “hive mind” as a description– because the Borg has made that pejorative– but the concept is essentially the unification of all life forms on the planet (humans, animals, plants, magma– I’m using “life form” loosely here) into one consciousness. This way, any threat (without or within) can’t harm the species or planet– it would be harming yourself. Success! Unless…
2. Maybe the Foundation’s Captain Trevize was wrong to choose unification over dispersal, which is Frank Herbert’s alternative– humans spreading out by the billions in every direction through space (the titular God Emperor called this “The Scattering”). This way, any threat (without or within) can’t touch every individual– preservation of the species. And a depopulated planet means the amelioration of adverse effects of modern technology (e.g. global warming).
Frankly, I’m not entirely sure how to go about the first plan, but the second…