A Window on the Universe Essay Question and Sample Answer
A Window on the Universe Essay 1
Does this collection of stories offer a positive or a negative view of the future? Give examples from the stories to support your answer.
In A Window on the Universe, the portrayal of the future is mainly negative. Most stories involve some kind of threat: global disasters, the negative impact of new technologies, or alien invasions.
Global disasters are suggested to be a major threat to humanity in the future. In ‘The Hammer of God’, the main characters are attempting to save the Earth from an asteroid which could destroy it. It is also implied that Earth has suffered devastating natural disasters, as California has been destroyed by an earthquake. Human activity is also suggested to be a factor in the potential destruction of humanity: in ‘Who Can Replace a Man?’, humanity is in danger because the soil was over-used and could no longer grow sufficient food to support Earth’s increasing population.
It is not just humanity that could cause problems in the future, according to these stories: alien invasion could be a source of danger. The very eerie story, ‘Zero Hour’, terrifyingly suggests that aliens could use the impressionability and innocence of children to attack Earth. In ‘Human Is’, although the aliens do not seem hostile, their disturbing methods of coming to Earth – by taking over the bodies of humans – is certainly threatening. ‘The Machine That Won the War’ claims that the Earth has been involved in a protracted inter-galactic war. Although Earth wins the war in the end, the idea of battling aliens certainly offers a negative view of the future.
Developed technologies are described as having both potentially positive and negative impacts in the future. Several stories have helpful machines operating in the background to the main stories, such as the domestic helpers in ‘Human Is’ and the manual labouring machines in ‘Who Can Replace a Man?’. However, high-tech equipment is also suggested to be a threat. In ‘Stitch in Time’, a woman’s truly human story of love is tragically interrupted by time-travel technology. ‘The Sound Machine’ also implies that developed technology could provide us with knowledge that could drive humans mad: Klausner is terribly affected by his ability to hear sounds made by plants.
In conclusion, this collection of stories highlights potential dangers and difficulties that could be experienced by humanity in the future. The future is largely portrayed as a dangerous place, with humans having to deal with new threats from Earth and beyond.