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  • Peter McAllister

Were Sci Fi films set in 2019 - 2021 "right"?

Updated: Aug 11


Keeanu and the visor

Source Rotten Tomatos


There are a few famous films in the past that are set or spend time, in the period between 2019 and 2021 - movies like Bladerunner, Johnny Mnemonic, Terminator:Dark Fate and Pacific Rim to name a few. Were they right with their predictions of the world their story would be set in?


Lets look at it from a different perspectives - were the backdrops and the themes relevant today?


I did a bit of research and found a sample of 23 Sci fi films and TV that were set between 2019 and 2021.


The top category was Post Apocalyptic - 30% of the stories, followed by Robot/AI at 26% (pandemic was 4% by the way).


Back in April, I wrote about Sci Fi predicting the future in terms of technology and came to the conclusion of "sometimes" (and we really talk up the successes while ignoring the failures). In this case they were not good at predicting the big picture. But then I looked at the data again- specifically the median year of the works.


So the median year for the Post Apocalyptics - was 1984. Russia boycotts Olympics, Ronald Regan jokes on an open mike about bombing Russia, the coal miner strikes in the UK runs for a year and the IRA attempt to assassinate the British Prime Minister. We had not yet wound down from the cold war properly and the idea of nuclear annihilation was still top of mind for many.


The median year for Robots/AI was 2000. It's World Maths year, the PS2 is released, the ILOVEYOU computer virus is released as is the MAC OS. We had survived the Y2K threat and the power of computers was becoming more apparent, especially in the hands of more people.


So in the case of the overall theme of the books set in the future - is it more about a disruption of the times and the events when the film was written, than a dystopic prediction of the future?


I will leave the final word on that to William Gibson author of Johnny Mnemonic screenplay. Released in 1995 - and set in 2021 - showing us a world dominated by mega corporations and a greater influence of the East. The lead character has a neural implant to allow him to store data secretly for transport around the world (thanks Elon Musk for the Neuralink).


Lucky guess, premonition, detailed research or just a good yarn based on an idea?


And does it matter - does it entertain you and make you curious?

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