“The measure of a mind’s evolution is its acceptance of the unacceptable.”
– 2150 A.D. by Thea Alexander
Seeing the cover immediately brought me back to those days when I was an introverted and idealistic kid who was, ahem, disillusioned with the world around me. The nation’s economy was in the tank, my father was unemployed and constantly fighting with my mother, my sister ran away from home, a ruthless bully decided to make my life a living hell in school, I became afflicted with acne…. good times.
I found sanctuary in books – particularly science fiction and fantasy – but Alexander’s 2150 A.D. blew my adolescent mind. It was so much more than just a utopian novel about a guy who astral projects into the future and discovers that humankind has radically evolved, it was just as much a guidebook explaining Macro philosophy and a manifesto of The Macro Society, which – according to the back of the book – was located in Tempe, Arizona.
Jon Lake, a philosophy graduate student and Vietnam War veteran living in 1976 New York City, experiences a vivid dream where he travels to 2150 and experiences a future where humankind has achieved its ideal state. The majority of people are like super beings physically and mentally and follow something known as Macro philosophy: “…it contains the essential core of the Taoism of Lao-tzu, the Buddhism of Siddhartha Gautama, and the Christianity of Jesus of Nazareth.”
Those who follow Macro philosophy have achieved seemingly impossible abilities like clairvoyance, telepathy, and psychokinesis, to name just a few.
The philosophy's wisdom is surprisingly simple:
“Macro man… understands that we are constantly creating our selves with every thought we think. He knows that his every cell responds to his every thought, thereby making of him that which he believes himself to be. Macro man knows that he is not the victim of circumstances, but rather the designer of his own destiny, the creator of his own reality.”
As Jon – in his astral state – learns more about this idyllic future world and its scantily clad, sexually liberated inhabitants, he decides to take his knowledge back to 1976 and try to enlighten the masses…
Reading this novel back in the ‘70s literally changed my life. It gave me a sense of hope, not only for myself but for humankind as well. I even plotted ways to somehow get from New York to Tempe, Arizona – maybe I could join the Macro Society and escape my miserable existence… (I never made it.)
Fast-forward almost 40 years – as I began reading this novel again, I was prepared for bitter disappointment. The majority of novels that I revisit – Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a perfect example – just don’t have the impact that they did when I first read them decades earlier. I thought that the New Age stuff – astral projection, reincarnation, communal living, etc. – wouldn’t translate well to my cynical, middle-aged self but, shockingly, this novel is still powerful and timely, maybe even more so now than back in the ‘70s. The excerpt below was particularly penetrating:
“…how was it possible to go from a world of competition, conflict, distrust, hatred, overpopulation, pollution, ignorance, and monumental selfishness to a world of cooperation, love, and wisdom?”
Back in the ‘70s, I seriously thought that this utopia could be eventually achievable, but today? Not so much. Regardless, this was – and still is – a significant and deeply beloved book to me. Visionary, inspiring, and more than a little controversial,readers who enjoy exploring utopian landscapes should definitely seek out and experience this sadly out-of-print book asap.
What does the experience of rereading 2150 A.D. tell me? It tells me that while reading new releases is certainly enjoyable, revisiting beloved old books that had an impact in your life can be just as enjoyable and can be a great way to see how much you have evolved in the years between reads.
What was a significant read in your life? And do you think the experience of rereading it now would be just as powerful?
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!
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