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November 22, 2004


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Asking Big Questions of Science is our contemporary version of asking Big Questions of God, since science has assumed the place of religion in an Age of Quantification. Ultimately, you cannot find an answer to the question "Why?" in a quark, any more than you can find this answer in God. In fact, because science quantifies where the spirit qualifies, it can't possibly even begin to respond intelligibly to issues that lie outside the realm of the observable.

While Dostoyevsky had God and salvation in mind, his characters inhabited a very real St. Petersburg. It was the ways in which these qualities manifested themselves in the quotidian world of St. Petersburg that rendered them so much more relevant than those same qualities rendered on Planet Zircon-4. In fact, the quotidian world hasn't changed much since then; our scientific instruments continue to be mere extensions of our very fragile, ambivalent human consciousness. The assumption that science has changed the world or human nature is taken for granted by modern humanity, and it's a dangerous assumption. We may develop the understanding of the atom to build a bomb out of its energy, but we end up banging each other over the head with it like a prehistoric rock.

Isaac Butler

Damn George, do you just rattle off such eloquence or do you like revise?

I think the point I'm trying to get at is that fiction doesn't have as much time for both the quotidian realities of the day and the big question. If that makes sense. I should also note that most of Morrow's stuff (in fact, almost all of it) takes place in the present with recognizable characters, it's just that fantastical stuff happens in them... like God's body crashing to earth an unleashing an existential plague...


I've got this neat little software program that runs my single-syllabled prose through a thesaurus, replacing every small word with one considerably larger. It's called the Babelizer.

I think I know what you're getting at. These questions are marginalized today, yeah, but I think that's because we as a culture have collectively decided that these issues just aren't (a) amusing, (b) titillating or (c) important. And, as we know, if you're a marketer, if you're not (a) or (b), you're certainly not (c). (Writers and directors know this all too well.) Fiction doesn't have any less time than it used to; it's what fiction decides to do with it that counts.

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