I just finished reading Greg Bear’s Eon, which is a sci-fi novel written in 1985. It’s a good book. If you like sci-fi, you should read it. What struck me about it, though, is the cold war perspective from which it’s written. In Eon’s future (which, for the most part, is our present or near-future), there was a small war between the West and the Soviet Union in the late 90s (there was no breakup in 1991), then a larger war in 2005 or so. The whole book is permeated with cold war thinking, which got me to thinking.
Jackson Browne’s mid-80s hit, “Lawyers in Love” is another work (though a pop song, this time) suffused with the cold war, and it happened to come up in rotation in iTunes (which I had shuffling through about 10 GB of music) while I was reading Eon.
I think I’m experiencing Cold War nostalgia. Despite the near-constant apprehension of war between us and the Soviets, things were pretty clear. We were the good guys, the Soviets were the bad guys. We had Mutually Assured Destruction to keep things balanced, so we were safe, even with this omnipresent awareness of all those nuclear warheads pointed at each other.
I grew up in the 80s, so that’s “home” to me in many ways, but I think this feeling is more than just wanting to recapture my misspent youth or [insert other cliche here]. Politically, things are so complex today. Sure, the 80s weren’t as clear cut as I’ve painted them (and they sucked in all sorts of other ways, especially in the UK), but, in comparison, today is scarier by an order of magnitude.