Back In Time: article by: GF Willmetts.

November 1, 2015 | By | Reply More

Isn’t it amazing that whenever a date is reached that is significant for an SF film set in the immediate future, the media goes crazy over it now. The biggest point is how much of the supposed future matches the one we live in. Case in point is ‘Back To The Future’ or rather the second film future date 21 October 2015 which happened earlier in the month. It’s a bit too late to make the dates in the first and third films. Well, not unless you have a time machine. I’d need some uranium to make mine work. Doesn’t have to be weapons grade and a little safer than plutonium. Well, just a little. I’m in the wrong reality to use thorium.

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The question the journalists wanted to know is why didn’t the writers Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis get more things right? As if Science Fiction writer in any media has ever gotten the future right in their stories. Even the wildest things are just guesses.

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A lot of the time, just advances on what was currently available. It’s why the future of skateboards was seen to be anti-gravity than wheels. Why so many ‘Jaws’ films had been made, although Spielberg saw the warning signs there. Why 3D projection is still in its infancy. Why Mr. Fusion power plants could be bought for the home market. Why cars could fly or let alone why films afterwards depict a more dystopia future. Hell, who would have thought computer graphics would be a big contribution into films back in those days. After all, it was so clunky in computer games and a resolution was something you made on 31st December. About the only thing they got right was digital books and that was only a subtle hint in the retro-cafe. After all, home computers back then could barely muster 512kB.

Back in 1985, the Internet had barely gone on-line and another decade before it got into the homes. Who would have thought that would have happened back then? Home computers were all the rage. Who thought they would be used about emails and all the other things we can do now? If anything, the most important lesson SF writers have learnt is that the future rushes along too quickly. I mean, look at how quickly things have moved on in the past twenty years. Things have moved up geometrically and we are living in a Science Fiction future already but even so, things like beating gravity is still some way off. Although they sensibly used the same source for the hoverboards as the flying cars and not created from scratch.

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How can anyone predict where we are going to be in the next twenty years? It might explain why most SF authors don’t try and even in SF films, they’d rather show things going wrong than the human race look after itself. Whatever we predict we’re going to be wrong. If our dystopias are wrong then maybe we have a bright future because we know what to avoid. Well, if we forget the damage to the ozone layer and other pollutants. Interesting how that’s been kept out of the news in the past few years. The potential for war around the corner. Then again, who would have thought terrorist wars would be so prominent now?

Basically, at the decade or so scale, nothing can be predicted. We might have thought we could last century but not anymore. So why do journalists see SF writers as seers? This is long before ‘Back To The Future’ and sure as hell, long after. Surely they would have seen enough SF by now that even the novice would realise we’re not in the predicting business. Then again, none of them compares automated cars to KITT from ‘Knight Rider’. Maybe they should start them talking and remind them? If SF gets it right, then it’s by luck than chance.

A lot of the time, Science Fiction points out the wrong use of something by extrapolating where it might go and what it could do. Saying that, Jules Verne saw the future of submarines but even he never dreamed of them carrying nuclear powered IBMs. With ‘The Ironclads’, HG Wells foresaw the use of tanks on the battlefield and probably hit that on the head where that was heading.

If anything, the common denominator amongst many SF authors is to think of the consequences of any technology. Oddly, that seems to have gone missing lately. I mean, when was the last time any SF author highlighted the future of the Internet and cyber-crime or anything else that could go wrong? Then again, by the time a story comes out about it, it might well have happened or worse, give the wrong people the wrong idea and with so many different terrorists around these days, that might not be a good idea.

What’s the next date in the SF calendar? October 2017 according to ‘Terminator: Genisys’, as each change to the timeline moves things forward.

Hmmmm…that still means we only have a few second for Skynet to make up its mind what to do about us. I doubt if the news media will be that fast in reporting its decision. Maybe the Internet will get there first.

(c) GF Willmetts 2015

all rights reserved.

Category: Culture, Scifi

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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