March 16, 2005

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Eco Civilization 2140, by Roy Morrison (Writers Publishing Cooperative, 2006)

I wish I lived in Warner. Then I might get more of the in-jokes Roy Morrison feels compelled to make about the town in this hundred-page fictional non-fiction essay.

Perhaps I should explain. The central conceit of this book is that the year is 2144, and Morrison is writing a factual account of how the people of Earth have created an ecologically correct, sustainable society. People live to be 150 years old; the population has stabilized at four billion after reaching a peak of nine billion; and the Empire of Oil that caused a series of resource wars in the early twenty-first century is remembered as a foolish, doomed enterprise.

It seems like a pretty nice world. Instead of multinational corporations concerned only with money, most development and commerce is done through community-based cooperatives. Oil has long since reached its peak, so people are forced to use renewable energy. Life is a bit slower and less competitive than the cutthroat, quaint days of the 2000s.

Enjoying this book, unfortunately, depends on buying that the future history could really happen as Morrison presents it. Iím not sure I do. A big part of this future is the ecological value-added tax (EVAT), which manages to fund all government functions. Products are taxed ó beginning at 20 percent ó based on how ecologically damaging they are. Okay, fine, good idea, but this tax supposedly funds all government functions, including the negative income tax ó a new kind of welfare that provides a livable wage in perpetuity for anyone who performs two years of public service. Politics aside, it just doesnít seem feasible.

There are many more details, obviously, but on the whole, the world portrayed reeks of the authorís fantasy society. Most actual people mentioned are from before 2006; a few are grown-up versions of what I assume are kids in Warner today, which is sweet, but not knowing them, I donít care. The fiction here isnít fleshed out enough with people or specific events to make it seem real.

With a little tweaking, though, it would go a darn sight further toward a believable history for the Star Trek universe than Gene Roddenberry or Rick Berman has ever done. Thatís gotta be worth something. C

ó John ďjaQĒ Andrews