Saturday, 13 June 2015

70s Saturday Sci-Fi Scans

Today's blast from the past is a time capsule in itself. While we were on vacation, my parents cleverly hid a few boxes of old books in the basement. It took about a month for me to notice :D.

See, back in the day when there were used bookstores all over the place and trendy neighbourhoods were less Starbucksy than they are today, I used to enjoy scooping up old sci-fi paperbacks by the pound. My husband also enjoyed this hobby, and it's possible that we bumped elbows in those dusty, musty places. Digging through the boxes was almost like shaking hands with my younger self. “Why hello there, young woman in the plaid shirt! You don’t know me, but let me tell you about the fuuuuuture!”

Sometimes I wasn't too careful about what grabbed - sometimes all it took was an interesting cover to seal the deal. Let's start with the author photo and cover of today's tome. Pretty groovy for 1976!

Doesn't the title alone make it sound like this awesome dystopia? The “Terminal Generation?” Who are these poor, trapped souls? Are they like “The Starlost”? What evil overlord must they overcome, what adventures will they have? I can totally see why I bought it. On the inside it says:

We are the Terminal Generation...

on the brink of despair, engulfed by waves of confusion, desperately grasping for hope in what seems to be an utterly hopeless world.

But, if I had read a little further, I would have discovered that it was one of those 70s disasters books full of future predictions, and this one more so than others. Hal Lindsey is an end times author, or dispensationalist, as Wikipedia helpfully explains, and apparently there was no shortage of all the ways the world was going to end by the mid-80s, if not sooner. Mr. Lindsey is still at it, actually! There isn't a cohesive narrative that most non-fiction books are able to form at all, just short screeds that clearly inspired the cover artwork. Lindsey's mind is wrapped up in a lot of anxiety caused by world events, particularly a fear of communism. The chapter on false prophets is particularly quaint - sometimes it's easy to forget all the consciousness raising stuff people did in the 70s that was pretty cultish.

It's pretty hard to take the book seriously in this day and age - maybe we’re just used to the news or have some disbelief because we're still here 30-plus years later. It was the idea that the alignment of the planets in 1982 would trigger disasters - but at least there's a hint of science fiction within. Lindsey mentions The Jupiter Effect, a book from 1974 which somehow had an introduction by Isaac Asimov. It's nice to know that goofy ideas existed long before the Internet :-D