In the twenty-first century, where everyone seems connected by a smartphone and Facebook account, maintaining individuality has become a major concern. It is easy to imagine that individual agency is threatened by this web of socialization. Professor Timothy Melley of Miami University writes that our culture is presented with "'a sense that complex institutions and forces are arrayed against us, that they manipulate and control both our action and our thinking.” According to Melley, conspiracy theory looks for the headquarters of power, and such theories have become a fixture of modern culture. Indeed, conspiracy theory and paranoia can easily be seen in modern discourse. Few significant events have passed without groups pointing to some hidden orchestrators. An obvious exampleare the theories surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. More recently, there are that groups that claim to know a true cause of the September nth World Trade Center attacks (www.911truth.org), or blame certain groups for the recent financial meltdown in the United States (Inside Job). With conspiracy theory as such a fixture of modern culture, it is no surprise to see it appear in works of science fiction, a genre that is primarily based off the writer's extrapolation from concerns and issues that he or she sees in the world. Of course, any conversation of science fiction must mention Philip K. Dick, whose stories have been adapted into films, such as Blade Runner and Minority Report, and influenced others, like The Matrix, making his work integral to modern science fiction. Paranoia appears frequently in Dick's work, where the protagonist finds himself in a world where everything seems focused on manipulating his actions and concealing the truth.
"The Paranoid Invidual: An Analysis of Paranoia in the Writing of Philip K. Dick,"
Occam's Razor: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: http://cedar.wwu.edu/orwwu/vol2/iss1/3