Today’s post is inspired by the fact that yesterday was the day that we caught up to the Blade Runner timeline. Yes, we aren’t yet into 2019, but a significant event occurred on the date yesterday in the Blade Runner universe which we can’t ignore.
This isn’t the first time that we’ve caught up to a film or book timeline – and it of course won’t be the last! For as long as we continue to write futuristic narratives, we will always have a fictional timeline ahead of us.
Other examples include events long gone – we passed 1984 33 years ago, and we’ve already surpassed the year when Marty McFly discovers Doc Brown’s time travelling DeLorean. We’re another 24 years in the future from when Jurassic Park might have been built, and it doesn’t look likely that dinosaurs will be reincarnated in the next 24 either.
It’s strange to think that the current, real timeline is so vastly different to what we imagine. Of course, it’s not difficult to see why, but it is nonetheless strange. Do we have better, higher hopes for our technology and the rate at which science will provide us with all the answers as well as cool stuff like time travel and teleportation? Or do we always assume things will go badly far sooner (dystopic futures, I’m looking at you)?
2010 was already 7 years ago, and we still have not made contact.
New York is not overrun with infected vampire people, as I Am Legend would have us believe should have happened in 2012.
Our post is regularly delivered by the Royal Mail and Fedex, not some post-apocalyptic courier (from The Postman).
But we’ve still got things to look forward to – it’s a far cry, but Blade Runner‘s events occur in 2019. That’s still 2 years for replicants to happen! (I don’t think it will, but we can dream… if we really want that future?). Akira‘s Tokyo may still be a possibility (although I hope it isn’t).
5 years from now we could be eating our own species in a bout of worldwide, disguised cannibalism (Soylent Green, anyone?).
And 10 years from now the world could be infertile, leading pregnancies to become a rare event (Children of Men!).
There’s plenty more from here on out. We’re beginning to reach a tipping point in a lot of science fiction set in a far away future. It’s odd to think that i, Robot was written 57 years ago, but is set in a future which was 85 years in the future from when Asimov published it. That’s a more realistic timeline than Mr. Philip K. Dick had in mind for Do Androids Dream, but nonetheless I am doubtful that we will have fully functioning domestic robots with that level of AI by 2035. It’s possible, of course, if technology continues to march on and ‘hops to’ a little faster. But overall I think we’re safe from a robot uprising. For now.
(I do not think, however, we are light years away from an uprising in Britain similar to that of V For Vendetta. While Alan Moore’s Watchmen hasn’t inspired much vigilante justice in the world – it’s still all very isolated incidents, and not many people want to dress up as armoured owls – it’s still very much possible that we could have a peaceful protest in a similar vein. I’m not saying that the Houses of Parliament are about to be blown up in another Guy Fawkes attempt, but those Vendetta masks have certainly been adopted by a group who at least try to enforce some sort of vigilante justice on the world. And it’s not too long since the 2011 England riots, which takes a 2 second Google to take you onto the Wikipedia page about the events. From that, it’s not hard to see parallels between that and the sorts of stuff that Vendetta addresses in both graphic novel and film).
Although 2010: The Year We Made Contact might seem a little too soon to assume we’d come into communication with sentient, intelligent life forms who are not ourselves, I want to believe that Star Trek had it right when they predicted it would be not 2010, but 2063 when we’d get our first taste of ‘proper’ aliens (if only because it could potentially be within my lifetime).
There’s plenty more examples of timelines and events which (mostly science) fiction has predicted – plenty which seem plausible, others … not so much. I wanted to examine a couple and take a look at just how interesting it is to compare the real world with the fictional. It’s not hard to imagine ourselves in those worlds, especially since fiction likes to imagine the darker side of humanity and address the contemporary anxieties of now, rather than the contemporary hopes we might have for our society and world.
This timeline is a pretty good amalgamation of science fiction films which predict the future and attempt to imagine what it might be like. Of course, right now, barely any of us will get to see the ones in the far flung future. But there are definitely some times we will see come and go, and we’ll be able to examine just how far we’ve come, and yet what a long way we have to go before the positives – and hopefully not many of the negatives – from the imagined worlds of science fiction become realities.