Thursday, October 20, 2011

They Promised Us We Were Going To Live Forever And All I Got Was This Stupid Blade Runner T-Shirt

Blade Runner is my favorite film. I have studied it like religious scholars have the Dead Sea scrolls.

There is a reason for my unstoppable support for this mangled was the first time I thought I had seen the real future.

It was the first time I felt I had been told the truth.

And that was disturbing.

I knew something had changed inside me when I left the theater opening day after the first showing. I just didn't realize what it was until later.

But over the next several months in '82 I went through a transformation that scared people a little. I had always worn my hair long. I cut it the shortest it had ever been. I was working an early morning shift in winter and could only afford a motorcycle as transportation. I went into a thrift store and hanging on a rack was a mint condition vintage army trench-coat with the wool liner. I handed the lady my $5 and left the building.

I still own that trench to this day. Frazzled and worn it is still one hell of a coat and with the liner will keep you warm in deep Siberia.

I didn't know what cyberpunk was then. It didn't have a name. But there were books and other items that seemed to be part of a world not often talked about in fiction circles or any other circles for that matter.

I read Burning Chrome by William Gibson that same year. I began my Gary Numan collection. I bought John Brunner's pre-cyberpunk trilogy-Stand On Zanzibar / Jagged Orbit / The Sheep Look Up - and the grand-daddy of them all-Shockwave Rider (where he coined the word "worm" to describe a program that propagates itself through a computer network).

Prior to all this I had been a believer in the 'science will cure all our ills' future. Future Life magazine promised we would all travel to space and live forever. There would be no more war or disease. That science would deliver us from ourselves into a 'golden land of opportunity and adventure'.

Flash Forward 30 years - The planet is dying and we argue over whether the water will rise in Miami 24 inches or 24 feet. Genocide takes place everyday on this planet. Starvation is rampant.

And I watched what may very well be the last time this country puts a person into space in my lifetime.

With the last launch of a shuttle the curtain comes down on the finest achievement humans have ever made.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope somebody figures it out. The future we were promised was a bright one, filled with the technology and the know-how to fix the problems, to right the wrongs.

I'm just not holding my breath.