Other worlds… a great theme, and one which recurs in many of my favorite science fiction stories. Taken literally, it could simply be the idea of a world different from our own… another planet, another galaxy, another time, another dimension. But I feel it can also be about the choices we make… the red or blue pill? Each choice sets you on a new path… but which is the right path? What is truth? How do we know?
Daniel makes a very interesting point in her blog that I agree with: “we can actually make the astonishing claim that there is no such thing as one absolute definition of reality.“ We can look at a film like the Poetic Holodeck and argue about various interpretations, but what is to say which is the right interpretation? If the holodeck is sentient and chooses to create a mountain for itself, then why are we questioning its choice? As far as we are aware, maybe that is the holodeck’s definition of reality.
In World Builder the man creates a world, and rushes to make every detail perfect in anticipation of the arrival of the woman. But then he hides from her and watches her enjoy his creation. At the end we find that she is in a coma like state, and in the “neuro holographic recovery unit.” So an interpretation might be that he is trying to help her recover be recreating a favorite memory… but if we each have our own definitions of reality, his recreation of the memory can’t possibly be the same as hers. So certainly she would be aware that his creation was not real, wouldn’t she?
If we have no “absolute definition of reality” then how can we hope to share our experiences and life with anyone, when everyone is experiencing their own world? Perhaps Other Worlds then is not so far reaching as some far off magical land, but simply how the person next to you is experiencing this same existence… and it is as other worldly and foreign to you as science fiction. But isn’t that what it is to be human? To strive to understand the different reality, and to be more alike, to find similarities, to share?
I always find it interesting that we use stories involving androids and aliens to try and define what it means to be human. It’s almost as if we cannot look at ourselves, and need to have an other worldy being see us, and to see through his/her/it’s eyes to find clarity. Are we the collection of our experiences and when we die, we are lost like tears in the rain?
Or are we something more? What makes us human, as opposed to meat sacks making noise with our meat flaps?
Is it our individuality, or the sum of our collection of choices that make us human?
Or is it that we have the ability to ask these questions… to wonder about our existence… to try and find connections and similarities with others, but still want to be separate and unique? Why is it a recurring theme in science fiction that android’s want to be more human, or the perfect human? Isn’t that just our projecting ourselves onto the android, so that we can relate? Why wouldn’t the android want to be the perfect android? I for one can’t wait until a day when I might be able to ask.