1. Sci-fi terrorists

    24 september 2009 av Adam

    I recently found an ancient issue of Wired Magazine. Before sending it to be reincarnated as newspaper I reread the article on the Aum Shinrikyo cult and the 1995 sarin gas attack in Tokyo.

    Apparently the cult was strongly influenced by Isaac Asimovs science fiction classic, the Foundation series in its view of the world.

    “The Empire will vanish and all its good with it. Its accumulated knowledge will decay and the order it has imposed will vanish.” It could be Shoko Asahara talking. But it is Hari Seldon, a science fiction figure 10,000 years in the future. Seldon is the key character in the Foundation series – Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi epic – and he would give Murai and Aum their high-tech blueprint for the millennium and beyond.

    The Cult at the End of the World page 3

    This kind of reminds me of the discussion about whether Al-Qaeda is inspired by the same series of books. The main reason for this claim seems to be the fact that the name of the organisation can be translated into “basis” or “foundation”.

    A 2002 article in the Guardian sums up the debate well.

    On the surface, the most improbable explanation of the name is that Bin Laden was somehow inspired by [ … ] the world’s most prolific sci-fi novelist [ … ] But the deeper you dig, the more plausible it seems that al-Qaida’s founders may have borrowed some rhetoric from Foundation [ … ]

    War of the worlds

    The article also discusses other SF and Fantasy influences on terrorist organisations, which makes me wonder why there aren’t more groups that are inspred by William Gibson’s Panter Moderns. I guess that’s a good thing…

    Also see: immanentization of the eschaton