"But you haven't explained for what purpose."
"I explained; for air, and to see, and just to walk."
"Have you done this often?"
"Every night for years."
The police car sat in the center of the street with its radio
throat faintly humming.
"Well, Mr. Mead," it said.
"Is that all?" he asked politely.
"Yes," said the voice. "Here." There was a sigh, a pop. The back
door of the police car sprang wide. "Get in."
"Wait a minute, I haven't done anything!"
(Illustration by Joe Mugnaini, who also did the covers for many other US Bradbury books)
On the general subject of "21st century turning out rather badly
so far," I noticed that corpo-police-state super-macho riot-cop
motifs, presented as dystopian in the '80s in for example
"Robocop," reappeared years later in the filmed version of "I,
Robot" -- as a comforting, familiar connection to the present!
When Will Smith interrogates his robot suspect, the array of
locked-and-loaded human SWATistas behind him don't seem to
connote dystopianism but rather to remind and reassure us of the
human power of self-determination and to offer a connection to
our actual 21st century present reality. I thought it was
interesting how culture has rotated itself around the Riot Cop as
an icon, and normalized the security state.
In another, more recent and disturbing example, I just finished
reading Hartwell's "Year's Best S.F. #4," from 1998, and while
most of the stories in it are already dated, some surprisingly
so, I was shocked at how relevant, how much MORE relevant,
Swanwick's horror story "Radiant Doors" has recently become.
Swanwick has seen something very important about the mass
psychology of our new era, and saw it very early.