I just finished the dystopian sci-fi novel The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner. It was published in 1972, and Brunner's predictions are dire and depressing, but in many cases he's spot on with some of his predictions. It seems he was well read in scientific research, and he saw our future through dark-colored glasses.
To use a fancy word to describe the novel, one could call it prescient. Some of the prose is just eerie.
So here are some direct quotations from the novel that show his foreknowledge:
- ...people seem to assume that any medical drug is good.
- ...trying to discourage pig and chicken breeders from buying feeds that contained antibiotics, and they simply wouldn't listen
- Praise be, if Anyone is listening, for those who struggle to save us from the consequences of our mad cleverness.
- Page: And our biggest export? Quarrey: Ton for ton again, it's noxious gases.
- For one thing the [Environmental] Acts don't have enough teeth. One can apply for all kinds of postponements, exemptions, stays of execution, and of course companies which would have their profits shaved by complying with the new regulations use every possible means to evade them.
- Most papers were losing money.
- Who do you know who doesn't have to take pills of some kind nowadays?
- ...a folder of papers about chemicals in food.
- It follows that the meek are chosen of God. I shall try to be meek, not because I want the earth--you can keep it, after the way you've fucked it around it's not worth having--but because I too should like to be chosen of God. QED. Besides, I like animals better than you bastards.
- We can repent together, or we can die together; it must be our joint decision.
- Beaches fouled with oil and sewage, air so bad you can't go out without a mask, the water at your sink reeking of chlorine...
- bees of California became extinct in the sixties
- You and your ancestors treated the world like a fucking great toilet bowl. You shat in it and boasted about the mess you'd made.
- a little Stephenson electric not meant for long distances, with only a hundred-mile range between rechargings
- The rich countries have ruined what they own, so they're out to steal from the people who have a little left.
- right-wing mayors were axing their welfare budgets on grounds of economy
- [fish] hopelessly high in dangerous substances such as organic mercury
- that the news media were complying with the president's celebrated dictum, "If the papers know what's good for them, they'll print what's good for America."
- You can't blame the people who can't hear the warnings; you have to blame the ones who can, and who ignore them.
- The government couldn't go on forever bailing out mismanaged giant corporations, even though it was their own supporters, people who ranted against "UN meddling" and "creeping socialism," who yelled the loudest for Federal aid when they got into a mess.
- And every day senators and Congressmen who in public were inclined to turn purple at the mere mention of state control wheeled and sealed behind the scenes to secure for their home states the fattest government-financed contracts they could nab
- We're divorced from reality, in the same way as the Romans went on thinking of themselves as invulnerable and unchallengeable long after it ceased to be true.
- We had centuries of unplanned progress, and the result can justly be called chaotic.
- You couldn't look to that straw dummy Prexy [President] and his cabinet of mediocrities for anything more useful than pious platitudes.
- Commenting on the report just prior to departing for Disneyland, where he is slated to deliver a major speech on education, Prexy said, quote, Well, you don't have to go abroad to know our way of life is the best in the world. End quote.
- For example, there's an inherent distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who'd look good and make comforting noises.
- When the politicians claim that the public isn't interested any longer in environmental conservation, they're half right. People are actually afraid to be interested, because they suspect--I think rightly--that we'll find if we dig deep enough that we've gone so far beyond the limits of what the planet will tolerate that only a major catastrophe which cuts back our population and our ability to interfere with the natural bicycle would offer a chance of survival.