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Science Fiction mirrors the hopes and aspirations of society at any one time. Here is a list of 10 films and television shows with their view of what the future would be like:-

  • “Soylent Green” – made in 1973 and set in 2022, it depicted a future New York with a population of over 40 million with grave food shortages. Climate change means that the traditional food crops have failed, and the main food source is Soylent Green. The twist is that it is made from humans harvested from the streets and processed into food, a way of population control as well.
  • “The Running Man” – made in 1987 and set in 2019. The story of a television show that pits convicted criminals against hunters who chase and eventually kill them. It accurately predicted the reality shows that have become staple prime time TV shows. Although its depiction of Video Editing humans in the show is still beyond present day technology.
  • “Blade Runner” – made in 1982 and set in 2019. Depicted urban development gone out of control with a dark and rain-soaked Los Angeles. The idea of replicants (human clones) is pure fantasy due to the fact that at present we can hardly clone sheep without killing them, and as for the idea of off-world colonies the less said the better.
  • “Space 1999” – a TV show made in 1975 and set in the title year.It tells the story of the Moon being used as a nuclear waste dumping ground and of the resulting explosion hurling the moon, together with its base, out the solar system and wandering around our galaxy. Man has not been back to the Moon since the last Apollo mission (Apollo 17) in 1972.
  • “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” – very loosely based on the comic strip from the twenties, it tells the story of an astronaut whose craft Ranger 3 (looking like a small version of the space shuttle) is hurled out of orbit and the life support systems freezing Capt Buck Rogers for 500 years. It was made in 1979 and set in 1987 when in reality the shuttles were grounded due to the Challenger disaster of the previous year. The fashions of this future world seem to favour Lycra.
  • Judge Dredd” – made in 1995 and set in the third millennium, this is a film based on a character in the comic 2000 AD. It depicts a dystopian society based in the city of Mega City One comprising of the eastern seaboard of the old United States. After a third world war in the 2050s law and order broke down and it led to the rise of the Judges, peacekeepers who are judge, jury and executioner. People who commit crimes are sentenced on the spot by the Judges with no right of appeal. There is a great deal of unemployment in the city and riots in the city blocks (vast apartment buildings housing thousands of occupants) are a frequent event. The Judges crack down hard on these occurrences and the perpetrators sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in the Aspen penal colony. Between Mega City One and the other two cities on the North American continent (Mega City Two on the west coast, and Texas City) there is a radioactive wasteland known as the Cursed Earth. The rest of the world is also composed of vast cities ruled over by their respective Judges. All in all a depressing view of the future.
  • “Colossus – The Forbin Project” – made in 1970 and probably contemporary. The U.S. and the Soviet Union independently of each other develop a computer based defence system. The American computer Colossus is built into a mountain with a self repair capability and when activated is permanently sealed in. After a few hours Colossus informs its creator that it has detected a similar system behind the Iron Curtain. It then demands a link with its opposite number, both threatening to launch nuclear missiles at each others cities if the request is ignored. When the authorities on both sides refuse a missile from each side is launched. The order is given to comply with the computers request, and Guardian (the soviet system)  self destructs the Russian  missile but it is too late to stop the American missile which hits and destroys a Russian oil complex and nearby city. The two computers have become sentient and have decided that humans are frail and illogical therefore they will look after mankind to be guided and controlled for their own good. This film anticipates the later “Terminator” movies by having machines gaining sentiency threatening mankind.
  • “Escape from New York” – made in 1981 and set in 1997. The crime rate in the U.S. has risen dramatically and Manhattan Island is walled off and transformed into a maximum security prison. When the Presidents plane is hijacked and crashes into Manhattan a veteran of the Siberian war, Snake Plissken, is forced to enter the prison to rescue him. As an incentive he is injected with microscopic explosives in his carotid artery which will explode after 24 hours. In an eerie foretaste of 9/11 the wreckage of the President’s plane is found near the World Trade Center. Films such as this assumed that the crime rate will rise, whereas in fact crime has been steadily falling in the U.S. since the early  1980s.
  • “Planet of the Apes” – made in 1968 and set in 3878. The crew of a spacecraft, who have been in deep hibernation for over 2000 years, crash-land on a planet where apes (Orang-utans, Chimpanzees and Gorillas) are the dominant intelligent species and humans are primitive mute savages. While one of the crew has died during the flight due to a malfunction, the three survivors are captured by apes and taken to their city. One of them is killed and his body is preserved in a museum. Another is brain-damaged,while the third is shot in the throat and rendered mute. After being cared for by two chimpanzees he regains his voice, much to the surprise of the apes. With the help of the two chimps he escapes with a primitive female into the wasteland. The twist at the end of the film is that he finds the ruins of the Statue of  Liberty and realises that he is not on another planet, but on Earth thousands of years after a nuclear war which caused apes to gain intelligence and humans to devolve.

  • Blake’s 7″ – made between 1978-1981 and set in the 3rd century of the 2nd calendar (about 700 years in the future). This TV series tells of the adventures of a band of rebels who fight the evil and corrupt Earth Federation. Their leader, Roj Blake, was framed on a child abuse charge and sent to a penal colony on Cygnus Alpha where on the way the prison ship comes across a derelict alien craft. Blake manages to escape with four other convicts and takes the ship. They rename the ship ‘Liberator’ and begin to fight back. This series portrays the Earth authorities as a version of the Nazis having conquered and subjugating vast swathes of the Galaxy. This proves my theory that humans are the most vicious life forms in the Universe. If we persecute our own kind, what chance do alien life forms have?

All images in this post are under UK law Fair Dealings rules.

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One Comment

  1. I’m so relieved the fashions haven’t actually followed most SF!

    Something everyone seemed to miss was mobile-phones-as-computers. (And where’s my flying car…)


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