Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2017

OMAC 7: the mother lode!

The great secret: programmable matter!

I can't stop smiling. I never thought OMAC would be this good! Years ago I realised that "unstable molecules" are the key to understanding all of Kirby's future technology. And here we have it, in OMAC 7, the penultimate book! Even better, it shows how all of Kirby's characters are linked: they are the same person, Kirby himself, under different circumstances: alternate futures. It's all the same story with the same technology and the same dangers, the same message: this is our future!!

The idea in OMAC 7, that an ocean might fit inside a room, is simply the fact that most of an atom is empty space. And of course its mass can be reduced by changing some of the mass into energy and broadcasting it to some holding place where, if desired, the process might be reversed.

But let's get to the point: how can atoms be manipulated like that? We are beginning to see. Today I learned about programmable matter, and in particula…

OMAC 6: mortality

As Kirby says, people will do anything to live forever. We should be grateful that personal immortality is still impossible. It's our only guarantee that bad guys will fall and that a new generation can start again.

Once people can live forever, some will amass more and more resources and the rest of us won't have a chance.

OMAC 5, continued: immortality

OMAC 5 is about shortening the lives of the poor in order to lengthen the lives of the rich. It is already true that the rich have longer lifespans. If their / our riches are completely and objectively fair then the longer lifespans are just their natural reward for their moral superiority. But if there is any unfairness at all in a our economic system then the strong must be living longer at the expense of the weak. That is, one life is shortened so the other may extend.

That has always been the case of course. But Kirby is warning that, when the technology allows it, this transfer of life from one to the other will become clearer.

Note how, once again, the peace corps emphasise equality, fair laws and nonviolence. The story is about the need for equal rights.

OMAC 5 and Elon Musk's hyperloop

I was just reading about Elon Musk's proposed hyperlink: more efficient transport based on magnetic levitation. Then I closed the web page and started reading OMAC 5. Guess what: . "Spawned by the energy crisis, magnetic travel has replaced combustible fuel. New emissionless vehicles glide on waves of polarized force."

It's happening now.

OMAC 4, continued: the grounded and the infinite

Kirby fought on the front lines in the war, and it dominated his thinking for the rest of his life. So his battles, such as in OMAC 4, are grounded. Compare them to mainstream superhero books. Kirby is simpler in his tasks, slower moving, so you can experience the decision making process, the military organization, the individual choices,  and the feeling of the ground under your feet and the wind in your hair.

Kirby also understood that possibilities are infinite. Literally anything is possible: the only limiting factor is imagination.

For imagination to become real it has to be based on understanding. Kirby understood people. For example, Kafka's attitude reminded me of Slobodan Milosovic's trial: a man from the same region (20 years later) with the same goals: to build a nation through force, with himself at the top. And of course that name, Kafka! Every detail is mind expanding. There is so much in this one book. My favourite part is the location, how it feels like you are…

OMAC 4: our cyborg future

How does mankind survive when machines double their intelligence every few years? If you can't beat them, join them. OMAC's every atom is dependent on the machine. So he makes himself useful to it. And they evolve together.

Today we are becoming dependent on mobile phones. They replace parts of our memory, connect us to others for wider experiences, and help our decision making. And what is consciousness other than memory, experiences and choices?

OMAC 3: video game wars

OMAC 3 was released in 1975 (dated 1974), when the hottest game around was Pong. But Kirby foresaw totally immersive first person 3D shooters.

He also foresaw that for a massively more advanced army, war is almost like a game: OMAC faced no serious opposition. This is like modern drone warfare against less advanced nations, where drones are controlled from a distance, as if in a video game.

It's happening now.

OMAC 1, continued: the end of humanity

Why does OMAC destroy Lila? He tells us why: "Where does humanity stop and technology begin? We no longer know, Lila."

The whole series is about becoming slaves to a greater system. Brother Eye may be benevolent, but OMAC is still its slave.

This is happening now. Optimists point to how humanity is getting better (The Better Angels of Our Natures.) But this is simply a measure of how individual humans have less and less power.

Individual humans no longer make the decisions. Groups do, organisations do, markets do, systems do. They run the world better than individual humans did. And technology means a single person can understand less and less of how it works.

We are building better and better technology. But technology is just a tool. It will be used by the most powerful entities. Those entities are no longer individual humans.

Humans are networks of cells. Nations and corporations are networks of humans. They evolve. They live. We are merely their cells. And they are learn…

OMAC 1: gene therapy

In the early 1960s Kirby was interested in how radiation can create random mutations. By the 1970s he was into targeted gene therapy. In OMAC, a satellite changes a person's genes. Impossible, you say? Yet the technology is now beginning to appear.

CRISPR and retroviruses are ways to use virus behaviour (the ability to change genes on a large scale) as a way to re-engineer the human body. For example, recently a young Syrian boy with a rare disease had 80 percent of his skin replaced using this technology (remove some skin, fix the genes in every cell, grow sheets of the better skin, then re-attach it). CRISPR is changing medicine. Extreme biological engineering is the world that's coming, as foretold in OMAC.

How is a satellite involved in all this? That brings us to mother boxes: the ubiquitous parallel technology that it took a brain like Kirby to appreciate. His New Gods books introduced highly advanced smart phones. We have early versions of them already. They use satellit…

Kirby's prophecies: an overview

I think Kirby is the best guide to the modern world and to the future. And so I call him a prophet.

The best place to start is OMAC. In these eight books, written in the early 1970s, Kirby explicitly described "the world that's coming". The world we live in today.

Another obvious place is The Eternals, a book that foretold the most important event in human history, and it will take place in 2026.

Most of Kirby's books from 1958 onwards were about the future. The Challengers was about the Unknown. The Fantastic Four was about the newest technology. Thor was about men gaining the powers previously reserved for gods. Unfortunately Kirby's Marvel books were changed and and over-simplified by his editor, Stan Lee, but the later books are almost pure Kirby. So we'll start there.

Enough talk. Time to read!

About Kirby The Prophet

Jack Kirby was America's greatest writer. In my opinion.

He sold 600 million books (around 2000 stories, averaging around 300k sales each). For the claim that others wrote his work, see the analysis of Fantastic Four 1. Kirby's stories have a greater range, and a greater depth, than any other writer I know. He presented ideas as seeds: seeds that grow and grow after the story ends. This is what Kirby said on the topic:
I was presenting my views to the reader and saying 'what do YOU think?' I think that's an imperative for any writer. In other words, no writer should feel that he has the last word on any subject. Because he hasn't got the capacity. He doesn't know! I don't know, see, I'm guessing as well as you [do], except I may be a little more descriptive, that's all. [...] I put enough chinks into the story to allow the reader to interpret it his way.  Because I've always respected the reader. [...] I sold the best stories I could. But I d…