Sunday, April 21, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis, by Kate Wilhelm

I read Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis from The Secret History of Science Fiction, though it is also available at the link above.  An outfit called World Tracker, and they have a huge library of book files, as well as news.  Seems like an interesting source. 

In any case, this story was written in 1975, but as near-future speculation.  Where it's right on and falls short are both interesting.  Wilhelm assumed, like most of us, that labor unions would continue to protect factory workers and shorten the workweek, so ordinary folks would have time to watch even more TV like they were in the '70s.  It went the other way.  But the show they're watching is called Crisis Therapy.  Several people are placed in dangerous wilderness situations, and the first one out wins a million dollars.  The experience is supposed to straighten them out.  Fast forward 30 years and we have...The Amazing Race!  And it's a fairly good speculation.  Going through a very difficult experience, and prevailing, is indeed therapeutic--the contestants all say so.  Whether they are permanently helped is another matter. 

Wilhelm even anticipates that folks might binge-watch the entire contest.  And we have sophisticated tracking technology to help the viewers, who can pay extra for a premium experience.  Where does she miss?  Some ways where she should have known better--everybody didn't watch the same show even when we had less than 10 channels, unless it was early Monday Night Football.  And thinking that people would compulsively watch people walking around in the wilderness in real time, even in danger, seems like a stretch.  But it's very interesting as an anticipation of reality TV.  I give it three stars--find out where you think she got it right and went off track.  Fun.

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