In the near future, mankind will have turned to science to explore the nearer planets of the solar system, as well as the nature of the brain. The coming problem seems to be this: Science has transformed mankind to such an extent that it is no longer clear what it means to be a human being, or whether there is any humanity in a being whose defining power issues in science.
This being the case, it is strange even that we have a protagonist. Science deals with the question what? Answering this question about many different things is what allows us to create technology. In this sense, the power of the human beings depends on human knowledge. Our hero is no scientist. His claims to knowledge about our world are very limited, to say the least. His claim to our attention, however, is obvious. A protagonist is a somebody, one who insists that who we are matters, not just what we are.
We may say, heroes are the poet’s way of orchestrating the quarrel between poetry & science. Heroes are supposed to do what poets can only say. Further, they are much more impressive to mankind & therefore much more persuasive. Thus, the poets attract the attention of the scientists: People love heroes, perhaps more than they love science.
Our protagonist is a man dissatisfied with a construction job & an apartment in an ugly neighborhood. He wants more than that from life. Two things stand out about him: He dreams of flying to Mars. The wife suggests Saturn, a kind of compromise he finds unlovely. The Golden Age holds no attractions for him. No more is his beautiful wife able to persuade him to abandon his ambitions.
Such being his ambitions, it is strange that he should find another compromise: To pay a company to brainwash him into thinking he has been to Mars. Of the stories they offer to force into his brain, he prefers a deep-cover spy story, involved with momentous conflicts. This turns out to be another adventure than the one he had chosen. We may say, his choice had been limited, so we do not know yet what he thinks choiceworthy.
We may say, our protagonist may not be himself. He seems to prefer illusions to a disappointing life. But he doubts whether scientific illusions can replace what a man knows by his own powers. He will not allow himself to believe either in himself or his world. Finally, the man attempts to take control of Mars. Science must save a race of mutant human beings from asphyxiation. Perhaps his ambition is not spying, but founding.
Schwarzenegger as a science-fiction hero. For fans of action movies.