History of the Future 9: The Future in the 1970s


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History of the Future

  • 9: The Future in the 1970s


This Session

  • America in the 1970s: Big picture

    • Political and economic turmoil
    • Loss of national confidence
      • Vietnam
      • Watergate
      • Oilshock
    • Contiuning social change


Vietnam (continues)

  • Nixon elected in 1968 with peace promise

    • Reduces US troops on ground, starts talks
    • Expands war in other areas (Cambodia, etc)
  • Domestic opposition grows

    • My Lai massacre reported in 1970
    • National Guard kills 6 at Kent State, 1970
    • Congress pushes for end
  • Final agreement in Jan 1973

    • US takes no action in 1975 as South falls
  • Undermines America’s faith in its power, morality

    • Destroys political consensus on foreign policy


Détente

  • Begins under Nixon

    • Visits China in 1972 – exploit divisions with USSR
    • New treaties with Soviets
      • Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM)
      • Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT)
  • Continues under Carter

  • Reversed in 1979



Watergate

  • Burglary of Democratic office by Nixon operatives

    • Covert action against political enemies from 1970
    • Break-in occurs in 1972, foiled
  • Story develops slowly

    • Pressure grows, investigations deepen
    • Investigations, tapes, firings
    • Nixon resigns facing impeachment in Aug 74
  • Undermines faith in politicians, presidency



Oil Shock – Energy Crisis

  • Following 1973 war with Israel

    • OPEC bars US exports; hikes oil prices
    • Price rises from $3 to $18
  • Tips economy into recession

    • “Stagflation” – new phenomenon
    • Happens again in 1979, Iranian Revolution
  • Idea of energy policy gains popularity



America Under Siege

  • America at the mercy of foreigners

    • Defeat in Vietnam
    • Oil shock
    • Iranian Hostage crisis following 1979 revolution
    • American industries crumble to imports
      • Steel
      • Consumer electronics – TV
      • Motorcycles, cars


Social Change

  • “60s” things become mainstream in 70s

    • Drugs
    • More sexual partners, cohabitation
    • Health food (if not communes)
  • More divorce; later marriage

  • Far more married women working

  • Increasing social fragmentation

    • Lifestyles
    • Music
    • Races


Environmentalism

  • Environmental Protection Agency (1970)

    • Set up by Nixon!
    • Consolidates pollution control programs
    • Strengthened under Carter – risk assessment duties
  • Technology Policy

    • Office of Technology Assessment – 1972
      • Non-partisan reports on technological issues
    • Carter administration favors energy research


Feminism

  • Growing movement in 1970s

    • Some radicalism – lesbianism as political statement
    • Possibility of all-female society
  • How inherent are gender differences?

    • Would women run a better world?
  • Political push

    • Equal Rights Amendment passes congress in 1972
    • Non-discrimination in law and work
    • Family-friendly workplace
  • Ideas live on, term becomes unfashionable



Science Fiction

  • Eclipse of traditional magazines

    • Galaxy at end of 1970s
  • Omni (1978)

    • mixes SF with popular science and futurology
    • 800,000 circulation
  • Star Wars (1977) changes everything

  • More written by women



Few entirely new themes

  • Influence of “new wave” still felt

  • Traditional themes continue

    • Time travel
    • Space war, etc
  • Literary quality inches up

  • Less atomic war

  • More economic/environmental pessimism



Big Dumb Objects

  • Mankind discovers huge alien artifacts

    • Leading new topic of “hard” SF in 1970s
  • Many examples

    • Ringworld, Larry Niven (1970)
    • Rendevous With Rama, Clarke (1973)
    • Orbitsville, Bob Shaw (1975)
    • Gateway, Frederick Pohl (1977)


More Women

  • As readers

    • Starts in 1960s, partly with Star Trek
  • As writers

    • “James Tiptree Jr” – leading short story writer
    • Pseudonym of Alice B. Sheldon (1915-1987)
  • Some follow feminist agenda

  • Approach dwindles by mid-1980s



More Women II

  • Others insert strong female characters in traditional SF frameworks

    • Joanna Russ, The Female Man, 1975 (fighter)
  • Some incorporate traditional female roles

    • Anne McCaffrey, Dragonflight (1968)
      • Component stories won Hugo & Nebula
      • Start of series
      • Girls adventure stories – ponies as telepathic dragons
    • Vonda McIntyre, Dreamsnake (1978)
      • Healer woman


Reign of the Dinosaurs

  • “Golden Age” authors continue to dominate

    • Heinlein
      • Long, self-referential, books
    • Asimov (returns to SF in mid-70s)
    • Clarke
  • None of them break much new ground




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