THE SCI-FI MIRROR

220px-PeaceOnEarthMy friend whom I have known for more than 20 years (since the time when I was teaching English at a higher institution) commented on my blog post of July 26 “When the Nation Reaches Adulthood…” I am grateful to Waclaw for his drawing my attention to the book “Peace on Earth” by Stanislaw Lem. It has taken me a few hours today to read the book, and I marvel at how prophetically this futuristic satire depicts Ukraine’s situation.

First a few words about the plot. Being concerned with arms race on Earth, all the nations conclude a treaty according to which they send their weaponry to the Moon. However, this kind of super-détente doesn’t work because the lunar artificial intelligence (created by the earthlings earlier to take care of the weapons) develops into an alien force which is threatening to invade Earth (hence, the satirical title of the story: “Peace on Earth”). The space explorer Ijon Tichy is sent to the Moon on a recon mission. Right on landing there, he suffers an electronic attack resulting in the severance of the connection between the left and the right side of his brain. Another man-trap set for Ijon by the lunar intelligence is a decoy robot who pretends that he is Ijon’s “brother.”

Actually, this last word “brother” was the main emphasis of Waclaw’s comment in my blog entry I wrote about the hypocritical epithet “brotherly” often attached to the relationship between the Russians and the Ukrainians.  Here’s a quote from “Peace on Earth”:
… First I heard two words muttered in a hoarse voice: “Brother dear … dear brother …” A minute of silence and then again, “Brother dear … dear brother …” . “Who’s that?” – I wanted to shout but didn’t dare to. I sat curled up, feeling the sweat beading on my brow, and the strange voice was filling the inside of the helmet. “Come, my dear brother, my dear brother, come to me. Have no fear. I’ll do you no harm, my dear brother, just come. Fear not, I do not want to fight. We need to fraternize. It is true, my dear brother. Help me. I’ll help you, too, dear brother.” Something clicked, and the same voice grew completely different – growling, brief and snappy: “Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Drop your weapon or I’ll burn you! Do not try to escape! Turn your back! Hands up! Both hands! So! Both hands on the head! Stand there and do not move! Do not move! Do not move!”
The schizophrenic split of Ijon’s personality is worthy of note too.  Due to his brain bisected, one hemisphere does not cooperate with the other, and consequently, one part of his body (hands, feet) is performing actions opposite to those the other part is performing. For instance, it repeatedly strikes Ijon on his face. I immediately saw a parallel in Ukraine’s actions. Russia has launched an act of aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, however, Ukraine continues to trade with Russia (for one, it’s delivering to Russia the military hardware within the frames of existing contracts). Euphemistically, Ukraine calls the war with Russia an “anti-terrorist action”—not a “war”, and it also awaits Russia’s consent for the ratification of the Association Agreement with the EU.

I wonder if the Ukrainian “chair-borne” command will, at some point, start reading Stanislaw Lem.

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