"Polarization...armed ideological camps...fear stalking the land a mari usque ad mare...and a gigantic political vacuum. A dictatorship? The fact that it hasn't happened here does not mean it can't happen here."
- Harry Bruce, The Toronto Star Weekly, circa 1985
"If we do not control the computer, the computer will control us."
- Cornelius Enouch Quinton, Musings on Machines, circa 2030
Set in the near future, Dystopia tells the story of the struggle to live in a post-apocalyptic world as seen through the eyes of a paralytic elderly man, and a fugitive from the ruling political regime.
[Currently being transferred from hard copy to computer as it was originally created on a typewriter]
SOMEWHERE IN CANADA WEST
Megalopolis had been conceived in the imagination of Cornelisu Enoch Quinton.
Although several other brilliant scientists and architects had wrestled with the theory behind it, the concept of the metropolis was a simple one for him. but, its design had proved to be a tremendous, difficult undertaking. Many times, he nearly abandonned the project; but, just as frequently, he set his mind to complete the task. The vision he had was all too clear, to necessary, to give up.
He'd completed high school with honours, went through college and specialized training in engineering and architectural drafting. During those years, he had learned as much as he could about computers, endeavouring to keep up-to-date with the latest mainframes, data processing, and artificial intelligence concepts. Gradually, it wasn't long before the exciting dream of a totally computer-controlled environment--Megalopolis, as he was to call it--gripped him with a passion.
As a young boy, he enjoyed tinkering with mechanical and electronic gadgets. After he played and grew tired with his toys, he took them apart piece by piece to see what made them tick, and then reassembled them. He read voraciously. Multitudes of books on electricity, computers, architecture, and mechanics crammed his bookshelves.
He acquired piles of neatly typed notes--organized, cross-referenced, and filed in superneat fashion. And when he began to put the preliminary sketches for the Megalopolis on paper when he was seventeen, he was sure he knew as much as any of the professors and scientists who taught him.
Day by day, whenever he could find the time, he travailed over the meltitude of illustrations and projected elevations. Night by night, as he slept, his subconscious laboured on problems which, by morning, reached a solution.. Month by month, the Megalopolis took shape--not only on paper, but also as a scaled model that filled one corner of his apartment.
Cornelius was to remember one particular day when his father came to visit. Randolph Quinton was a large-framed man, remarkably well-preserved for someone in his late sixties. He glanced over the model, then gazed down at the sketches as he joined his son by the drafting table.
"I'm designing everything," Cornelius explained. "From transportation to sewage disposal, shoppingplazas to living quarters. All of it will be controlled by a central computer complex."
Randolph flipped through several of the papers on the table. Technical illustrations, blueprints, and mechanicals of the various components of the Megalopolis. "That's very impressive, son. But, why bother with something like this? Shouldn't you be more concerned with important work? And, certainly, more practical..."
Randolph glanced towards a stack of papers on a nearby shelf and recognized various corporation logos.
"From the looks of things," he continued with a bit of concern in his voice, "you seem to be spending more time on this city design than on the rest of your assignments and accounts. Those are what bring in the money, you know."
Cornelius avoided looking at his father's face, and stared down at his brainchild. "Everyone has to have a dream, dad," he replied softly and he tried hard to hold back the emotion that welled up inside him. "This is mine. I'm going to see it become a reality."
Randolph sighed heavily and aptted Cornelius on the shoulder. "All right, son, if you say so. But, remember--day-dreaming doesn't pay the bills. Real work does."
He headed for the door, opened it, and turned back to look over the model once more. He shook his head. "Quite frankly, Cornelius, I don't like computers. Can't trust them." The door closed.
For several moments, as he heard his father's footsteps fade down the hallway beyond, Cornelius seethed quietly. His hand trembled with the ffort he was making to control himself. Suddenly, he picked up an inkwell and hurled it hard against the wall above the Megalopolis. The bottled exploded. Shards of glass and globules of black ink splattered like a punctured wound.
His angered soon subsided into quiet sobs. He realized his father knew of the coming changes in society, but was unwilling to change with them. His final comment made that all too clear.
And, no matter what he did, Cornelius knew he could never really please his father. Not before. Not now. Probably, not ever.
So, it was then that Cornelius vowed to himself that he'd always be willing to change with the times. In the coming era of electronic circuitry and revolutionary advances in scientific and medical technology, it was going to be virtually impossible to cling to the vestiges of the Past.