Several years ago I read a series of books written by science fiction author Orson Scott Card. Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Giant, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Hegemon are all futuristic novels about a group of children trained for intergalactic combat.
The initial story is about interspace conflict between two ancient civilizations–human and Bugger. All the nations of Earth have temporarily set aside personal conflicts to create one government and a unified force against the Buggers.
Then the storyline splits, and I read the group of books that returns to earth and asks, “What next?” when the galactic threat is gone and the nations of Earth once again have to distribute world power, this time with a highly trained set of children as military tools and playing pieces in the game.
The interesting point to me is Card’s predictions about future global dominance. His vision is a regionally controlled political scene. The United States is a minor power, dragged out of dominance by complacency. Most of western Europe shares this role. Russia is an old, yet reemerging power, but the majority of the power is divided between China (east Asia) and India.
If you have been watching the Olympics, you might think the future of global dominance depends on the tally of gold medals achieved by China and the United States–that gymnastics, swimming, and diving will decide the structure of world power.
While international athletics are a far cry from international government, Card’s predictions for political giants are remarkably similar to the Olympic giants. Abundant human resources, technological growth, and commitment to solidarity, discipline, and community over individualism seem to provide keys to strong Olympic performance. I wonder if Card’s political vision was drawn from those features of successful competition, or if both Card and Olympic commentators recognize the same real, shifting trend in politics.
Just as some breathed a sigh of relief when 1984 passed and Orwell’s predictions had not taken place, I would not be surprised to see a new generation of readers and writers looking to literature as a place where political fiction and expectations can meet and discuss the possibilities for the not-so-distant future.