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Under the Dome Australian style

July 2, 2013

It seems Domes are everywhere, or in the media at least. The new TV series Under the Dome by Stephen King is a techno thriller that had me transfixed when it premiered recently. The premise of the story is credible in the usual way that King makes the incredible seem credible through believable characters in entirely believable settings. Here a small American town is turned upside down, so to speak, when a massive dome lands on it from places unknown. Cars, a barn and even a cow are cut in half while unsuspecting road traffic runs right into it. Alone, the trapped town’s folk have to think of a way out.  I won’t go through the story too much because it is still playing here in Australia and I really wanted to make a point about Domes themselves.

Domes have been around for a while in reality and in fiction. Scientists working in Antarctica live in them or under the surface for obvious reasons. In my novel, Gaia Redux, the land, sea and air are all toxic through the after effects of war and ecological neglect on a huge scale. The world is so toxic that people are forced to live underground or under huge Domes not unlike those in Under the Dome.   Will we all in fact be forced to live in such places in the future? I wouldn’t be too pleasant, depending on your point of view, yet humans have a remarkable capacity for survival and in the event there was no alternative I’m sure most could get used to it. We can survive in space and deep underwater so people would no doubt endure and even thrive in that environment as well.

Domes have been a part of the science fiction playbook for some time and even the Simpsons got into the act with an episode featuring a large dome that traps the citizens of Springfield. Perhaps they’re more of a cautionary tale for what we might expect if we allow too much environmental degradation to occur. I can’t imagine people would really want to live under them if there was any reasonable alternative.

The recent drought and abnormally high temperatures that have caused historic fires in the US is a reminder that global warming is not a myth. It has been warmer than at any time since record-keeping began with some temperatures reaching up to an incredible 57 degrees Celsius following the worst drought in over half a century. The recent loss of life there in the bush-fires as a consequence of the drought and crushing heat has been tragic and will not soon be forgotten.

The use of Domes in an environmentally hazardous world may well happen yet those who chose not to, or are not in a position to use them, would be endangered. The hope of course is that it won’t come to that. Acting now to halt and even reverse climate change is urgently called for. That we can make this world better here and now is a truism that needs to be constantly applied on a number of levels. Carbon emissions need to be contained through an international effort and here Australia is leading the way. Science fiction can give a view of possible futures and it is arguable that nuclear annihilation has not happened, in part, due to the dark visions that writers and directors in that genre created over the decades. So too can we see what may come to pass with post-apocalyptic speculative fiction of the toxic world flavour. Forewarned is forearmed, and influential nations like China and the US as well as individuals both vastly influential or not can play their part. As for me, I intend to walk more and use my car less.    Image

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