In the Year Twenty-Thirteen, Mankind is…..living pretty much the same way as we lived fifty years ago. Only with Facebook.
Isn’t the 21st Century disappointing sometimes? It seems like the generations that came before us had such grand visions of where civilization would be up to by now, and what kind of things we’d be doing (colonizing space, eating all our food in pill food) and no, life isn’t like that at all. But let’s imagine for a moment how it could have been, or what it might still be like…with our Top 10 Futuristic Societies.
10. Brave New World
Let’s start with the society after which all other future societies are named – the “Brave New World” of Aldous Huxley’s novel. It was intended as a parody of H.G.Wells’ positive visions of the future, but it gained a life of its own and its title is now used in journalistic rhetoric for any idea that might be considered radical or future-changing, even when it’s a bit mediocre. The “World” itself is rather terrifying – babies are grown in hatcheries and conditioning centers, rather than being born, and the fetuses deemed to be among the lower castes are deliberately stunted so that they never have any ambition or rebellion in their characters. There is no concept of family or relationships – sex is merely recreational. People are happy, and die happy, knowing that the society carries on without them. But of course, someone breaks the mold and it all goes downhill from there. Still, an interesting model while it lasted.
9. The Matrix
There’s more mass mind-control in the world of the 1999 hit movie. On the surface, all is the same as it as ever was – humans go to work, get paid, go home. But reality is all just a façade, computer generated by “The Machines”. If someone chooses not to take their blue pill, and instead takes a red one, then they will fall out of the Matrix into the real society of the day – one where the humans are all contained within a megacity and plugged into a machine that simulates the world of 1999. Once you understand this, you can manipulate the “matrix” to give yourself superhuman powers, and therein follows a series of battles with sentient computer programs called “Agents” while flying through the air, dodging bullets and looking cool. If someone never takes the red pill, they spend their entire life in a pod, wired up to the program and their entire virtual life doing a dull office job. Best to take the red pill….
8. Battlestar Galactica
A recurring element of futuristic stories is man’s journeys into space. And Battlestar Galatica is no exception, starting with the premise that humans are mainly living on distant planets known as “The Colonies”. When these colonies are destroyed by the Cylons, machines gone rogue, the only survivors are the people who are aboard spaceships at the time. The TV series then follows the fortunes of the only military ship left – the Battlestar Galactica – as it tries to protect the civilian ships from further attack.
As societies go, it’s not dissimilar to our own, but it’s in space. There are political feuds, personality clashes and ridiculous displays of bravado. They eat what we eat, they dress like us when not in uniform and their language is delibrately un-technological. But the fact they have the technology to conquer distant star systems suggests it’s a society that’s far more advanced than ours. Their religion is also very different, with humans worshipping multiple gods, in the Greek tradition, and drinking ambrosia. An interesting mix of past, present and future.
7. Logan’s Run
There’s a common theme to a lot of these futuristic societies – everything is happy as long as no-one questions or tries to fight against the system. Such is the world of “Logan’s Run” – where the citizens of the 23rd century live happy and fulfilled lives under a giant dome. There is no population problem, but there is a small ritual that citizens must go through at the age of 30. It involves being vaporized, on the promise of being “renewed”. To this end, all citizens wear a crystal in their hand, which glows red when the end is near.
Of course, Logan is the one to rock the boat, and run away when his crystal starts prematurely glowing, rather than accept his fate with the expected dignity. And this inevitably leads to the downfall of the whole utopic society. There are two different versions of events, depending on whether you’re watching the film or reading the original novel, but the take-home message stays the same – if your society seems too good to be true, just accept it. Ask no questions.
6. Judge Dredd
A lot of these societies seem blissful, at least on the surface. Not so much Mega-City One, from the British comic 2000AD. It’s ruled over by ruthless Judges, who have few moral gray areas and rarely hesitate before chucking citizens into “The Cube”. The city covers most of the East Coast of America, with much of the Judge Dredd action taking place in a futuristic version if New York, circa 2099. The population is somewhere between 100million and 800million (the figure has varied over the long-running series) and they live in huge apartment blocks of 50,000 although some have to travel the city constantly on transport pods called mo-pads, thanks to a housing shortage.
Outside the city is a nuclear wasteland, and much of the city itself is destroyed in a Soviet attack in 2104. Laws are harsh – it is illegal to consume both sugar and coffee or smoke outside the Smokatoriums. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Well, at least citizens can entertain themselves at the alien zoo…