From Victorian dreamers such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne through to modern authors like Veronica Roth, that creative spark has launched readers towards distant planets and far into the future. Despite the fantastical settings Sci Fi has been uncannily accurate at predicting the future.
Arthur C Clarke, co author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, appeared on Australian TV in 1974. During the interview he predicted a technological phenomenon decades before it actually happened, one that has gone on to become embedded in modern culture. He was referring to what we now know as the Internet. Everything from booking holidays to video calling Australian relatives to to having a flirt with a person from another hemisphere are now at your fingertips..
But much as screenwriters have used their creative abilities to foretell everything from space stations to smartphones, it’s amusing to consider how the timescales haven’t always gone according to plan.
Blade Runner (set in 2019)
Based on a Philip K Dick short story, Blade Runner was considered a groundbreaking glimpse of our future when it was released in 1982. As well as featuring the colonization of exoplanets, its central theme was the moral dilemma presented by ‘replicants’ that seemed 99.9% human. The one drawback? Dick assumed this would all be happening very near to where we are now. The clock is ticking for those robot designers and new world pioneers.
Westworld (set in 1983)
Penned by bestselling author Michael Crichton, this 1973 film also focused on androids. Crichton visualized a resort where visitors could interact with robot gunfighters. The timeframe he selected was 1983. In retrospect, expecting this technology to get off the ground within the space of a decade seems the most outlandish aspect of his concept.
Rollerball (set in 2018)
William Harrison based the screenplay for this 1975 movie on his own novella, presenting a disturbing view of a dystopian society. Earth’s nations have been subsumed into one global state and TV audiences across the planet seek gratuitously violent entertainment in Rollerball. This glorified roller derby involves rollerskates, motorbikes and competitors fighting to the death. Although it was a persuasive satire, it was set in 2018. If there is ever going to be a time when an all-powerful corporate body rules the world, hopefully this won’t happen next year.
Escape From New York (set in 1997)
After a successful foray into the horror movie genre with Halloween three years previously, John Carpenter wrote and directed another dystopian tale. In 1981 he foretold a period where violent crime had spiraled to such an extent that the whole of Manhattan Island had been converted into a maximum-security prison. With potent satirical overtones of the Watergate scandal, the film was a commercial and critical success. However, Carpenter’s pessimistic view of humankind’s development was a tad premature: the action unfolds in 1997.
Back to the Future II (set in 2015)
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale wrote this sequel to the phenomenally successful Back to The Future in 1989. It reveals what happens when time-traveling Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) fast-forwards into a world where cars can fly: 2015. Gale was adamant there had to be flying cars in his screenplay, even if this is one concept that is strictly fiction rather than science.