Book Review: 'Fallen Angels'
About the Book
"Fallen Angels" by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn was incredibly prescient, given that it was written in 1990, published in 1991. How did this book accurately predict the future?
Secret Digital Warrants
Digital warrants are presented in which the individuals to be searched for and the judge who signed it are all secret. In 2013, the Justice Department fought to keep a warrant for journalist James Rosen secret. This is separate from the secret FISA warrants that various Obama administration officials submitted until they could monitor targets like Trump's staff under false pretenses.
The federal “Do Not Fly List” that bans people from flying is secret until you learn you cannot get on an airplane; there is no way to appeal when your toddler cannot board, though it is unlikely he’ll do anything dangerous beyond throwing up on a stewardess. Secret warrants to search your emails are compounded today by secret courts ruling on FISA requests whose rulings themselves are secret.
Conservation Versus Increasing Supplies
The solution to all problems is conservation, not increasing supply. The thermostat laws mandating a maximum 55°F are noted throughout the book. This reflects the push for thermostats the government can monitor remotely and calls for the government to monitor how long people shower.
Dissent is Crazy
Those in the book who disagree with the state are considered mentally ill, then treated with electroshock and drugs. This reflected the Soviets labeling those who didn’t see the Soviet Union as utopia as having sluggish schizophrenia, but it parallels the liberals who want to label political dissidents with left wing fascism as “crazy”. We’re not yet at drugging adults into compliance, but we routinely drug intelligent, active and adventurous boys in schools.
SJW Attacks on Sci-Fi Community
Social justice warriors taking on the science fiction establishment as sexist, racist and heterosexist and trying to snuff out the genre if it isn’t dramatically environmentalist. See the “Sad Puppies” slate for the Hugo Awards trying to bring writers banned from nomination for not being liberal enough, instead of on the quality of their writing and the “Rabid Puppies” liberal response. More telling is the Entertainment Weekly report that had to be retracted on April 6, 2015. It called the “Sad Puppies” slate misogynistic and racist, not realizing that several of the authors were women, several of color, and one of the white men had a black wife and interracial daughter.
Science Education's Decline
The erosion of science education is noted in several scenes in the book “Fallen Angels”. The most telling scene is where one of the characters opposes the “equal time” push in the science department. While crystals and Creationism are taught in the liberal arts department for course credit, the chemistry and physics teachers don’t consider such topics suitable for science. The dean’s answer? “He said that the alleged objectivity of materialist science was an invention of heterosexual white males, so we shouldn’t use that as a basis for judgment.” There are multiple books and blogs that espouse this same view, a large number of them Marxist / Communist.
Today, kids sit through lessons on global warming and the importance of conservation to save the Earth, never learning about the global warming pause or over 50 excuses for why global warming stopped. They give presentations on why we have to save the polar bears, which are not declining in numbers, while the U.S. sees its rankings on international math and science tests decline. Science class contains more environmentalist propaganda and the history of the few women and non-Europeans they can identify, instead of Newton's Laws and the Laws of Thermodynamics. A final example of this are the colleges that teach the history of science for science credit, where learning about Ada Lovelace and Madame Curie counts as much as learning about radioactivity and mathematics.
Science Is Evil
Science is shunned as a conspiracy to pollute the Earth, and plant genetics was outlawed despite the benefit. In the book, genetically engineered cold tolerant wheat has to be destroyed because the creators are afraid of being killed as witches.
In reality, the thoroughly studied Golden Rice that would have prevented blindness and death by malnutrition for millions of children a year for the decade it was delayed by fear-mongering environmentalists.
People in the book "Fallen Angels" shut down oil drilling and refining, arrested people for cutting wood without permission and let scientists get lynched. The fact that people in the book now routinely freeze to death in blizzards as the glaciers approach is irrelevant.
Green Police Seek Offense
The Green police in the book are staffed by young kids, teenagers and college students, who seek out offenses. They look for things to say that are an offense to their senses (too loud, ugly), or an offense to the environment. When presented with sound meters per EPA standards, they still try to say it is too loud or offensive to break up a gathering they do not like.
To quote Dennis Prager, too many people use "I'm offended" in place of "I disagree", because the latter tends to shut up nice people, and that's the intent.
We see this in real life with coordinated online groups reporting politically incorrect and politically embarrassing reports and commentary as racist, offensive and so forth, getting the sites banned by Google or content taken down off Facebook.
Cool Prediction of the Not So Hot Future
The book was mostly written in the late 1980s. It discusses how we were approaching a new Mauder minimum that suggested we were going to drop into a new Ice Age, though the fear was of global warming.
Depending on the satellite data you use or the land based temperatures you study (not counting adjustments to make the data fit the model), global warming stopped around 2000.