The last volume of Ellis’ Global Frequency has been on my mind since I read it. The only explanation I can give as to why it has stuck with me is fear. I fear the fact that the idea that Ellis presents in the last volume, “Harpoon”, is probably not far from the way things are in our world. How many “Harpoons” are there out there that we don’t know about?
During this last volume of Global Frequency, there is a scene where Aleph questions why the citizens of Chicago are not being evacuated given then imminent threat of the harpoon strike. Miranda Zero replies to Aleph with a couple of questions that would be asked if an evacuation was called for. “Is it true that the U.S. government has city-destroying missiles trained on its own citizens? Is it true that there was ever a plan to reduce the population to manageable levels?” There would be absolute chaos in the U.S. after its citizens were told that their leaders had developed technology to wipe 88% of them out. Miranda Zero is well aware that this is not a risk worth taking. As long as there is a chance that the harpoon can be disabled, keeping the lives of three million people at risk is far better than the alternative. Who is to say that our own government doesn’t have its own technological means of managing the population in ways that we will never be aware of?
The world population is currently at an all time high, and is still on the rise. Projections are made about things such as how long the world fuel supply will last, if there will be enough food to feed everyone, and if our planet can handle to amount of pollution and resource harvesting that such large population calls for.
Solutions to these problems include finding more/new sources of fuel, make more food, and reduce waste or recycle. People work tirelessly day after day trying to make these solutions a reality, it seems almost wrong to not believe that there are people working at the other end on ideas to keep the population down as an alternate solution. With this kind of thought, humanity’s idea of the End that Kermode writes about is totally altered. People can no longer turn to the religions and beliefs and merely say that the end will come as intended, but rather there is now this shadow of the power of manmade technology hanging over us. We could be disposed of at any time, without warning, with no divine explanation to comfort us. It could be as simple as the idea of the harpoon wiping out a whole city for no better reason than a malfunction in the machine. It is frightening enough knowing that there are nuclear weapons out there that could destroy us in the blink of an eye, its even more frightening to imagine all the devices and things out there that can kill or are already killing us that we do not even know about. For example, what if cures for diseases such as cancer have been discovered, but are kept from the world as a means of population control? (Maybe a little extreme, but hey maybe not) I cannot imagine that I will ever be able to guarantee that the world population is not controlled in any secret/unethical ways.
Ellis does a great job of drawing out the reality of the time we live in through the narrative and even with how the harpoon is described as being a relatively simple device, a simple device that could take out a whole city almost instantly. If a simple device can do that, it is unsettling to imagine the technologies that exist in our world that we do not know about, and the power that they may have. The fear is not a fear of the idea of the End, but rather a fear of how little we really know about our own fates.