Friday, July 09, 2010

JD Robb’s world vs. the current state of affairs

So, as I was reading about the federal Defense of Marriage Act being ruled unconstitutional, and the outcry from that, and thinking on the fact that our conservative SCOTUS will likely overturn the overturn once it hears the case (and I'm sure it will), it got me thinking that we must certainly be on the verge of something big. Some huge uprising. Because as the government (both state and federal) continues to take away rights of individuals & groups of individuals, and we become increasingly ever intolerant of those around us, something somewhere has got to give.

It got me thinking about JD Robb and the futuristic world she has created in the In Death series. And wondering if this storyteller isn't an amazing visionary. Are we on the verge of something equating to the "Urban Wars"? I can certainly see America (if not the world) heading down a path socially that must result in a massive revolt eventually. When things are so tense, that tension has to be cut somehow.

When we read about the world of Eve & Roarke, it certainly never occurs to us that the world in which they live is politically radical by today's standards (ok, it never occurred to me). But think about how 2059 New York:
  • Equal rights for all (GLBT)
  • Legalization of prostitution (with gov’t regulation - resulting in healthier prostitutes and, I assume, happier johns)
  • Gun Control (basically no more guns – and don’t worry, there are still plenty of other ways to kill each other!)
  • Birth Control (it’s accepted, y’all!)
  • Legalization (and regulation) of drugs. Yes, there are still illegals, but far fewer of them, and likely you can get whatever high you want off of something legal.
  • Eradication of multiple diseases (yet I love that they still can’t manage to conquer the common cold).

So, let's look at each of these individually...

Equal rights for GLBT: So many are trying to get here, but as a country (and a world) we have so far to go. Eve & Roarke think nothing of a same-sex marriage. It’s just the norm, like a m/f marriage. And nobody is hurt, maimed, killed, ridiculed, stigmatized, or denied parental rights due to the type of marriage they have. Win. Yet, there are people who still think they have the right to tell others who they can and can’t love. And Love and Marriage? They just go together like… well, a horse and carriage.

Legalization (and regulation) of prostitution: Prostitutes are disease-free, for the most part in Robb's world. There are varied types of licenses, and while licensed companions or LCs) may not be the cream of the crop socially, in general, they can earn a decent living just like the rest of us. Government regulation allows the "profession" to remain clean. It all seems somehow less… skanky, doesn’t it? Win. We're a people who are going to cheat no matter what. So why not make it clean and earn some revenue off the cheaters? Heck, we're willing to do it to the smokers, the drinkers, the SODA drinkers, why not the cheaters? You’d think it hard to improve upon Nevada’s legalized prostitution, gambling, and no income tax, wouldn’t you? Robb seems to have accomplished that.

Gun Control: Robb’s view of the mid-21st century shows that you don’t need a gun to protect yourself against your neighbor (unless you're Roarke). Almost anything will do. And she shows that there are still many ways to commit crimes, so we wouldn’t be depriving criminals of their God-given right to carry a gun and shoot some unsuspecting soul while hiding behind the 2nd amendment be a criminal and kill either. And the police still have weapons to protect and serve, but they are able to set varying levels of strength to incapacitate a suspect without having to have perfect aim. And there are no more accidental shooting deaths of children playing with mommy & daddy's guns. Win. Yet today, we still have gun bans being struck down as unconstitutional. It always strikes me as crazy the way the 2nd amendment, which clearly states the people’s right to bear arms to ensure the security of the nation (not to go bear-hunting for sport or kill your neighbor) is (mis)interpreted these days. Really, we promise to still kill each other - don’t worry. In Robb’s world, the definition of "arms" has simply been altered to reflect the advance of technology.

2nd amendment: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Birth Control: I think we can all agree that it’s better to avoid unwanted pregnancies in the first place than to have gazillions of unwanted children running around. In Robb's world, this is a given. Win. It's the method of avoiding those unwanted pregnancies where we all differ right now. Yet there are still those... read: mostly men – oh, and the Catholic church. Wait. Those are mostly men. Nothing against any religion in particular and please take this in the light-hearted jokey way it's intended, but wanna bet if little boys could get pregnant that the church would change its stance on birth control? Sorry - please don't email me or crucify me (no pun intended) for that statement - I was kidding. Kind of... Sorry, where was I? Oh yes. There are still those who would limit a woman’s right to choose birth control. (note that I did NOT say abortion) To not populate the planet with a bunch of unwanted children.

Legalization (and regulation) of drugs: In this shitty economy, think of the revenue that could be generated by legalizing and regulating drugs. Win. Sure, in Eve & Roarke’s world there are still illegal drugs. Nobody is advocating legalization of everything, but revenue, less smuggling, regulation of ingredients and their levels for safety... it all makes for a compelling argument in Robb’s world.

Eradication of diseases: We are certainly headed toward eradication of many deadly diseases in today's world. In the 50s, who’da thunk that we wouldn’t get polio or smallpox anymore? Robb’s utopian view on disease control is equalized by the notion that we still can’t cure the common cold. Win. Yet today, we still have drug companies and government that get in the way of medical research in the name of money and/or religion.

Given how right these things seem within the context of Eve & Roarke’s world, why can’t we get to a similar place ourselves? Well, apparently, what we need is a good ol’ fashioned revolution. Or Urban War. Once we achieve full-on civil unrest, can we get ourselves over this huge hump that has us marginalizing some people and vilifying others? That has us clinging to our constitutional roots as though they were immovable pillars of stone, rather than ideological pedagogy. I'm guessing the founding fathers would never have envisioned the world of child porn on the internet. Yet we stubbornly use the first amendment to cover this rather than use the Commerce clause. (Aside: Is it because those who look at porn the most are those we would give the right to regulate it? Again, read: men. Or Congress.) So why do we cling to this document rather than use it as a guide in principle to handle the changing times? If the Urban Wars were to actually happen, would government open its eyes and see a different way to go? Would the people?

Interesting thoughts, and they make me wonder if JD Robb is a silly little woman with a rather active imagination or if she’s a visionary.

There you have my (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek (but not really) thoughts on our world today and Robb's world, now less than 60 years away. Heck, WW2 is 70ish years old. Think of what's happened in that space of time!

(OK, Nora fans... I'm kidding. I know she's not a silly little woman, although she does have a rather active imagination.)


  1. Great post.

    No guns, birthcontrol for everyone and LCs would be a huge achievement and improvement.

    I'm hoping that there will be something like an Auto Chef soon:)

  2. Interesting thoughts Lori and convincing observations with the Equal rights, gun/birth control, legalization, etc. I think that Robb is both a visionary and a talented writer. She's able to paint that vision of tomorrow to her readers in clear images through her novels.

    About the auto chef, I'd love to get one of those.

  3. Sign me up for an autochef..

    I've often thought Robb a visionary when it comes to the social aspects of her world. There are always going to be problems - always - but we could minimize many of the risks by taking control of them. Especially with drugs, birth control and prostitution.

    I'm a gun advocate in many ways, but even I can see the pros for getting them off the street.

  4. I think Nora is a visionary and hope many of her social policies in 2060 come true long before then. But doesn't it feel like we're on the verge of the Urban Wars these days (Summer 2016)? I hope it never gets as bad as she describes. That would be truly scary.

  5. I wondered who else has seen the Urban Wars drawing closer and closer............Yes Nora Roberts is a visionary in many ways

  6. Been reading the entire series - have only a few more left. Yes on Auto Chef please. But question - did she ever actually write a book that was about the Urban Wars? And did they occur before Roarke and Eve were born? Would love to read something - a book by JD Robb on the Urbans - what caused them, how they were resolved, etc. She is a visionary in many ways.


Have you read it? What do you think?

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