The Twilight Zone has become one of those pop culture phenomenon that has well surpassed its original expectations. Started in the early 60’s as an anthology show that would explore sci-fi, fantasy, horror and mash those together each week, it has lived on into movies, multiple revivals, and numerous similar shows.
The Twilight Zone has always been one of my favorite shows. Each episode a different story and each story unique and interesting. Most were thought provoking and warranted discussion. You couldn’t watch an episode without seeing some reflection and meaning of life. Sure, it may have been about aliens visiting, but their actions spotlighted humans – our strengths and our foibles.
One episode has great meaning for today’s author. It is set in a futuristic society where people are eliminated when they become obsolete. What determines if you are obsolete? Why a council, of course.
Now, our society has seen many professions become obsolete. I don’t take my transportation to a blacksmith to get shoed. I don’t call the operator to connect me to the other party I wish to speak to. I no longer wave to the caboose man as the train chugs by. Many professions have disappeared, but we haven’t taken it to extremes of killing anyone with that now obsolete skill.
This episode deals with one man’s who is now obsolete. His profession? Librarian. They want to get rid of him because being a librarian is a useless skill in this futuristic world.
here’s a snippet:
“… no purpose here, no meaning.”
“I am a human being.”
“You’re a librarian, Mr. Wordsworth.”
Note the spot on name. 🙂 Anyway, this man is fighting for his life because books and librarians have no meaning in their future culture. This was written 60 years ago. And I feel once again, books and librarians appear to be in trouble.
People don’t have time for books. Books take too much to read. Why spend the time when you can easily read 20 posts in a couple minutes. But I ask – what enriches your life the most? Does the next meme really make your life better?
Now, I realize that people do find enjoyment in posts and posts connect people in ways that books may not. But, posts are also quickly slurped down and just as quickly forgotten. There isn’t the connection that is felt when reading about your favorite characters.
When I read Dragonlance, I was wounded when Flint died. How could such a thing happen. In the story, Tasslehoff is affected – something unheard of in a Kender – and I knew what he went through.
What about the horror Danny felt when his father chased him with the roque mallet? The hotel had been toying with him for months, but the feeling of fear leapt from the page to the point I can still feel it decades later.
These feelings and memories aren’t part of the quick post. True, there may be more posts and you can read more each day, but I believe we are missing out on a great joy of life we get when we spend time with the long form written word.
Science fiction has regularly pointed out problems in our society. One of my favorite examples is the original Star Trek episode “Let that be your last battlefield.” Again, this story if from the 60’s.
The Enterprise crew beams aboard someone that stole a shuttle. This person is completely black on one side of their body and completely white on the other side of their body. Shortly, they beam another individual aboard who appears to be identical. Oh no. True, this person is also white on one side and black on another, but they are opposite sides. To the crew, these two people seem to be the same, yet to them, they are completely different. In the end – the two beings hate each other so much that they find their planet destroyed itself because of that hate.
Hm, sounds like this story could have been written in 2020, don’t you think? Or do you not see the very un-subtle point? That is the joy of sci-fi.
Back to our librarian stuck in the Twilight Zone. I won’t give it away, but let’s say that he uses words from a book to make his point. You should watch the episode.
While we’re talking Twilight Zone, check out Season 1 Episode 8 – Time Enough at Last. Wouldn’t we all like to have more than enough time to read everything we’ve always wanted?