Philip K Dick’s 1974 Nebula and Hugo nominated novel ‘Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said’ is a capstone of the cyberpunk genre, showcasing a (then – when it was written) future dystopia ruled by a coalition of the police and military. The novel helped to consolidate the conventions of the cyberpunk sub genre in the same way that Dick’s alternate history novel ‘The Man In The High Castle’ consolidated the conventions of that genre.
Despite all the retro-futuristic gadgets (flying cars, floating apartments, commercial mescaline, digital orgies), the novel doesn’t portray a very desirable world. However, there is one aspect of the portrayed dystopia that I can get behind. That is how this fictional future treats college students.
In the novel, universities are essentially concentration camps, segregated from the rest of the society by armed guards and prison fences. Campuses bear more resemblance to slums where food and sanitation is scarce. Those who escape are met with hostility and violence, dobbed in and either killed or thrown back to their campus to rot.
In real life the Western world over, uni students (particularly those at Evergreen State College) carry on like they are already treated as badly as their fictional counterparts. They act like they are the French underground standing up to their Nazi occupiers, except there are no Nazis around and the nonsense coming from the student’s mouths is English.
So, hypothetical reader, why not treat students how they already believe they’re treated? This proposition doesn’t come from a place of cruelty, but charity. We would be doing the students a favour. At least then when they whined, their arguments would have some credibility.