Last night, on my way to see Quantum of Solace, the latest Bond flick, I had an experience of which science fiction novels must be made.
From the moment I pulled into the parking lot at the Century City Mall (where the theater was located), I seemed to have entered a world drawn from a novel of post-apocalytic world. I heard the mechanical voice from the machine dispensing my parking ticket, but heard no other voice nor saw another person until I emerged from the lot into the shopping plaza.
It was strange as if the humans had disappeared and only their technology remained. There were cars in the parking lot, discarded shopping bags, a stray suitcase in a pile of junk. But, I saw no organic life. Not even a stray cat.
Indeed, I hadn’t seen any human beings on the streets outside the mall entrance. Interestingly, this very area had (shortly after construction had been completed) served as set for the totalitarian future metropolis in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
There’s something surreal about seeing only products created by man without any humans present. To compound the effect, the first humans I saw were speaking a language I could not recognize. I would not hear any English until I attempted to go into the bookstore and the staff informed me it was closed.
Then, as I waited for my date in the lobby of the movie theater, I saw a steady stream of people coming down the escalator from the upper tier of theaters, but no corresponding troop going up.
Had I a science fiction novel in my head instead of a fantasy epic, I might have found inspiration in the strange sequence of events last night. Perhaps Pierre Boulie or Richard Matheson had had such an evening at a different time with different technologies. And those experiences sparked their imaginations and so led to books which would inspire many movies.