Friday, June 15, 2007

A Life Lesson From Science Fiction: I Dream Of George Orr

When I was a teenager one of my favourite science fiction novels was "The Lathe Of Heaven." It was about a man named George Orr whose dreams can shape reality. Say you have a dream you're married to your favourite celebrity... only to wake up in bed next to him/her. Sounds like fun until your first nightmare, or dream where someone you cared about died, or whatever. As a result of this George Orr develops a stimulant dependency, in order to avoid dreaming.

George gets sent to a psychiatrist who specializes in dreams. The psychiatrist soon figures out that George isn't crazy.

Naturally, the psychiatrist does what any thinking person in his position would do: he hypnotizes George Orr to take control of his dreams, and begins re-shaping the world to his order.

One of the last requests the psychiatrist had was to eliminate all racism and intolerance. The solution George's subconscious mind comes up with is to turn every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth the same pasty shade of grey.

I thought the novel was brilliant, but in my heart I just knew that one day we'd all learn to get along regardless of pigmentation. After all: long before I read "The Lathe Of Heaven," I was a Star Trek fan. "Surely to God," I thought to myself, "we'll eventually get past our urge to divide up into tribes based on skin color and culture and religion and such. And certainly, the more educated we get, the less likely we'll be to engage in that kind of stupidity."

Maybe I was wrong.

No comments: