Failure can bring one's confidence down a few notches. I know this for a fact because when I flunked out of law school, I began to doubt my abilities - even the ability to finish reading books with actual words on them. For a number of months, I stayed away from novels, until one time when the cab line was so long and I and my boyfriend didn't have the patience to stand in line. I bought two science fiction novels (I read science fiction, horror, fantasy and mystery books for fun) and I am now halfway through one of them, The Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov. I'm taking so long reading it because I only read during my lunch hour and any available idle time.
The book is actually the second to the last of the series, making me wonder what I'm missing. Anyways, it has gotten me hooked, owing to the fact of the plot's unpredictable nature and the book's philosophical undertones rendered in non-highfalutin language. Here's my two-cents' worth on two worlds I have read about so far:
Gaia, the Super-Organism
Imagine a creature that spans a whole planet. It doesn't occupy the planet - it is the planet. The rocks, the clouds, the trees, the people, the animals, the plants - everything IS the planet, and each component - rocks, clouds, trees, people, animals and plants, are only parts of it. It has one consciousness, one mind. Being such, it is impossible for conflict, or even privacy to exist. Even the concept of privacy is unknown.
I would love to be a portion of this planet. There will be no sadness, anger, desolation or despair. Each is a part of the whole, everyone and everything is literally connected together, albeit having different levels of consciousness, like a human body - the hair or teeth having less animation than the eyes or the hands. A character in the novel - Trevize, however, hated the idea of this super-organism. He is of the belief that total regulation is death by monotony. He would rather have a group of beings with individual consciousness. That way, there will be criminals and degenerates - and geniuses and saints. A society of total regulation will never have unique individuals among its ranks.
I am of a different opinion. This is the peace-lover in me. I'll trade my individuality for becoming a portion of a greater whole.
Solaria, Planet of Total Freedom
In Solaria, people do as they please. People not in the normal sense - but whole persons, as they call themselves. I once encountered a folk tale that men and women were once joined together , their backs attached to each other. They had a hard time performing daily tasks, and so God separated them, by sending a bolt of lightning to cut off their connection. In her fright, the woman ran away from the man so much that the man had to look for her on all corners of the world. That is why nowadays, men and women go far and wide to meet their match. When a man/woman finally meets his/her match, he/she feels as though he is made whole.
But in Solaria, people are whole - they are neither man nor woman, but both. Their genes have been grafted together that they show neither and both of the distinct traits of the two genders. This way, there is no need for social interaction and a Solarian can live on their own. This is total isolation, as opposed to the concept of the Gaian singular conciousness. Solarians live underground, one Solarian occupying as much land as their eyesight would allow, with robots to perform daily tasks for them. I can't quite comprehend the point to the concept, but a Solarian has no need of another Solarian. They keep well to themselves.
What do they do on their spare time then? This is what I have yet to read about...