I recently read Arthur C. Clark‘s 1973 Rendezvous with Rama, thanks to a friend’s recommendation. I thought it was great. Especially if you like the Golden Age and old-school science fiction. If you don’t, then you might want to pass. It was fun. Anyway, I went out and picked up Clark’s sequel (the not-so-enigmatically titled) Rama II. I am not enjoying it as much as Clark is doing sooooo much world building that things are kind of slow (we’ll see how far I make it). But what I wanted to share was the passage, written in 1988, in which The Chaos of 2133 is explained for the downfall of planet Earth and why space exploration was halted:
“By the end of of the year in 2133, it had become obvious to some of the more experienced observers of human history that the “Raman Boom” was leading mankind toward disaster. Dire warnings of impending economic doom started being heard above the euphoric shouts of the millions who had recently vaulted into the middle and upper classes. Suggestions to balance the budgets and limit credit at all levels of the economy were ignored. Instead, creative effort was expended to come up with one way after another of putting more spending power in the hands of the populace that had forgotten how to say wait, much less no, to itself . . . The global stock market began to sputter in January 2134 . . . World leaders insisted that they had finally found the mechanisms that could truly inhibit the downturns of the capitalistic cycles. And the people believed them – until early May of 2134 . . . the global stock markets went inexorably down . . . three of the world’s largest banks announced that they were insolvent because of bad loans . . .”
Pretty crazy, isn’t it!? This sounds like it’s “ripped from the headlines” of 2010-2012, but it was written over 20 years ago. Maybe Wall Streeters need to read more fiction and science fiction. I mean other than being 120 years off (and the whole alien thing) Arthur C. Clark kind of called it didn’t he?