Monday, 17 June 2013

In Which the Blogger Considers Some Intriguing Political Situations

While considering the gamut of Victorian Science Fiction, I began to wonder about was actually happening at the time, in real life, as often our real-world fears and concerns end up being reflected back to us through our popular culture.
The latter half of the Nineteenth Century was the zenith of the Colonial period, when various European Powers dominated vast swathes of the rest of the Earth. In England, in particular, there seemed to be a growing feeling of disquiet. While the most powerful naval power on the planet, with the most extensive empire, growing internal political divisions - between those who believed that England should rule with might, and those who believed England's dominance should be used to enhance the daily lives of all English subjects - contrasted with a growing external sense of unease at the the rapid unification of Germany and the rise of Prussia. By trickery, Belgium's King Leopold II had helped himself to the huge, and rich, Congo Basin, while Russian forces pressed ever south towards the Hindu Kush and England's resource-rich holdings in India. The sense that Britannia Ruled the Waves, and a plucky Englishman was worth 10 Johnny Foreigners, was a legend only held up by eternal vigilance on the part of agents of the Crown.

In some late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century novels - The War in the Air, The War of the Worlds, and The Thirty-nine Steps - we see England damaged, invaded, betrayed. Yet, while institutions might fail, the bravery and honesty of an average Englishman will often win through.

And then, we throw Science into the mix.