Tag Archives: controlling governments

The Authorities are Always Watching You

“Bridgman, this is Major Webster, deputy commandant of Cocoa Beach Reservation.  On the instructions of the Anti-Viral Subcommittee of the UN General Assembly we are now building a continuous fence around the beach area.  On completion no further egress will be allowed, and anyone escaping will be immediately returned to the reservation.  Give yourself up now, Bridgman, before –” (350)

“So they sent him to Coventry.  And in Coventry they worked on him over.  It was just like they did to Winston Smith in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, which was a book none of them knew about…” (378)

A common trope in SF seems to be the the all knowing and controlling government, which is used in Ballard and Ellison’s work.  Ballard uses the Anti-Viral Subcommittee as this trope in order to show a way to control people, especially Bridgman, Travis, and Louise Woodward.  They are forced to stay at the beach, and are threatened if they do not comply.  In the end, the authorities are forced to capture the escaping inhabitants of the beach.  In Ellison’s story, the Harlequin is taken to have him brainwashed, in reference to 1984, by George Orwell.  In both stories, the government/higher ups are showing their power by always watching, always controlling their people.  In real life, people are always worried about the government watching their every move.  In SF, it is taken to the extremes, due to that they are literally watching and keeping control.