From Star Trek to Fallout, the future is a concept frequently talked about and seldom far from our minds.
Whether you’re focussing on buying a new home, or preparing for a nuclear holocaust by stocking up on Spam, it’s a subject that can mean almost anything, to anyone, at any given time.
Perhaps that is what makes it so fascinating.
Visions of the future are wide and varying. Both short term and long term. Some prefer to dream of a peaceful utopia, where humankind is united and collective goals drive us forward as one. Others envisage mans destruction by killer robots/asteroids/each other.
The future is a subject which has been ‘debated’ for as long as the human race has had the power to contemplate such things. Along the way there are philosophical arguments, predictions of how homo sapiens will evolve and how technology will develop – take this picture from 1912, apparently predicting the invention of Skype…
Perhaps the idea that we’ll all one day be living in underground vaults is not so far fetched either…
But that is part of the beauty of ‘the future’. It is a subject we can sometimes look back at and laugh (how the Victorians thought we’d live today), equally one we can discuss, and even lament, at great length.
It is a subject with such wide reaching potential, it has even helped create ‘fiction within fiction’. Story lines such as the classic ‘Days of Future Past’ series saw Marvel look at the future of one of their own iconic franchises. The comic book juggernaut is not alone in this endeavour, with the animated series Batman of the Future giving the Dark Knight his own ‘next step’ for example.
The future has helped feed creative minds for years. Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel Metro 2033 became a cult classic, The Terminator is one of cinema’s most iconic characters (making a star of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the process) and Doctor Who continues to be driven by its founding idea – that space and time can be traversed.
Whether you chose to believe another part of the ‘Whoniverse’, that some events are ‘fixed’ in time, or that everything is ‘random’, the question of ‘what comes next’ will continue to fascinate me.
At the risk of getting a little deep, I’ll wrap this one up with some of my favourite ‘future inspired’ works:
The idea of a ‘nuclear holocaust’ ending life as we know it is a stalwart of modern science-fiction. The Cold War created a tangible sense of threat for a generation or writers and film makers to tap in to, and it’s a theme that is still touched on today.
Bethesda’s classic RPG franchise hit the big time when Fallout 3 landed, introducing a host of gamers to one of the industries most in depth worlds.
For many, Fallout 3 was the game of the last generation (or the current generation, depending on your view point) – confirming the wandered from Vault 101 as an icon of the gaming world, as well as cementing the series place among the more cynical visions of our future.
Like Fallout, Metro 2033 draws from the ‘nuclear holocaust’ well. As mentioned previously, Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel became a huge hit across Europe thanks to its dystopian look at the future of one of the worlds biggest cities and its inhabitants.
With elements of the super natural combined with the claustrophobia of being trapped in the Moscow metro system, this story of survival and one mans mission to save human kind spawned a wave of fan contributions and continues to command a huge cult following.
Grays Sports Almanac 1950 – 2000
Back to the Future II’s legendary sports guide tested many-a moral compass.
Bully Biff Tannen’s scheming and manipulation of time travel was as underhand as it was ‘inspiring’ – because, lets be honest, given the same opportunity to clean up at the bookies; most people would.
In a society increasingly reliant on technology, there’s a little black humour in the idea that a film series about a computer system that becomes self aware and tries and wipe us all out is still so popular today.
Far from Oscar worthy (it’s not even Stallone or Snipes best work), Marco Brambilla’s 1993 action flick does touch on a few intriguing notions – painting the future as this ‘too good to be true’ utopia, where swearing is outlawed, prisoners are cryogenically frozen and Taco Bell took capitalism to its ‘natural’ conclusion.
Of course, the too good to be true bit underpins the whole story line – as too good to be true does a masterful job of demonstrating that true perfection has to be imperfect. Because who really wants to live in a world where you can’t fucking swear?
Or where you have to use three sea shells…