2013-2020: THE REST OF THE DECADE, ACCORDING TO MOVIES (The 6th Day, Surrogates, Akira, The Island, Blade Runner)

The 2010s are a popular decade in science fiction, and according to Hollywood the next few years are going to be turbulent. Never mind the nuclear holocaust of 1997, or the exciting bureaucracy of the ‘late 20th century’: it’s the latter half of this decade in which the blackened skies of dystopia shall descend. After all, we have…

2015: The 6th Day

With less than two years to go, Schwarzenegger flick The Sixth Day comes first on our list. Rest assured, the next 20 months are going to be a busy time for our scientists, technicians, and ‘imagineers’ – after all, this is a world with perfected holograms, wet-your-pants-futuristic aircraft, and – of course – cloning. Now, the film suggests that animal (specifically pet) cloning has been around for a good while, which already puts pressure on our time-frame – and that more recently human cloning has been perfected too. Better get a move on, biologists! Especially considering your work life is about to be slowed down by the reintroduction of mini CDs for data storage…

6th_day

That baby can fit a whole seven Coldplay tracks!

What needs to happen first:

  • Quadrupled expenditure for the US Air Force’s R&D department
  • Animal cloning to reach consumer markets in the next 6 months
  • Development of magic explosion handguns
  • Augmented reality displays to be used at sports events
  • Economy-crippling product recall for USB thumb drives

Probability: 30%

2017: Surrogates

Next we have shiny-faced Bruce Willis adventure Surrogates. Like The 6th Day, this is a world in which the architecture looks pretty much the same as it does right now – as does daily life, if you ignore the whole never-going-outside-and-living-your-whole-life-as-a-robot thing. By 2017 transport and communications technologies are exactly the same as now, but we’ve managed to advance robotics from ‘garbage cans which can’t climb stairs’ to ‘terrifying Terminator monstrosities’.

Surrogates

Bear in mind this involves a constant real-time connection to your avatar, conveying enough data to allow you to hear, feel, and see everything it does. In high enough resolution to be identical to real life. Right now it’s 2013 and Google Streetview becomes a nightmare crawl whenever my ISP decides I’ve had too much internet. Fuck, one of the planet’s largest companies couldn’t even get the server space together to run SimCity.

What needs to happen first:

  • Internet connections beyond Silicon Valley’s wildest, most cocaine-fuelled dreams
  • A company founded with a larger GDP than the northern hemisphere, willing to provide a bankrupting service at rates affordable for literally every single member of the population
  • Said population to develop serious agoraphobia

Probability: 26%

2019: Akira

I’ll preface this by pointing out that, for some reason, 2019 is a really popular year for science fiction. Perhaps because it’s the last year which can really be considered early 21st Century – a date which is close enough to be scarily relatable, but distant enough to allow for all kinds of technological fuckwittery. In theory.

First up we have Akira. Now, I’ve already examined why you should probably move to Akira’s Neo Tokyo, but will such a move be possible in the next six years? Will I be too old to join one of the exciting motorbike gangs, or be a bum in a neon-lit dive bar? Well, in order for the glorious disaster that is Neo-Tokyo to be constructed, we first need something to happen to the old Tokyo. Something… not good…

Akira

Then we have the government’s ability to breed sinister psionic mutant children, which is pretty impressive considering the country’s largest city has been destroyed, and the old government deposed, with poverty and drug abuse running rampant. Japanese efficiency at its very weirdest.

What needs to happen first:

  • Someone needs to get really, really pissed off with Japan (see above)
  • Japan needs to bounce back, building a city orders of magnitude larger in just a few years
  • Unprecedented levels of immigration to fill said city (I’m not sure Tokyo’s original inhabitants fared too well from the incineration)
  • Sinister Mutant Children Breeding Programs
  • The horrifying return of 80s fashions and hairstyles

Probability: 15%

2019: The Island

The Island is our second film in the ‘optimistic time-frame for human cloning’ category. The breeding complex alone would take decades to build…

The_Island

Things aren’t much less advanced in the outside world: there are maglev trains spanning the US South – a region of the country notoriously opposed to public transport (or public anything) – and Los Angeles is covered by flying rail networks. Bear in mind this is a city that can barely get a functional subway system working.

The_Island2

What needs to happen first:

  • Los Angeles’ transport funding to rival NASA’s
  • Flying motorcycles to reach consumers
  • The Southern US joins human civilisation

Probability: 0%

2019: Blade Runner

We all know the famous landscape of Blade Runner – the fancy towers belching flame, the elegant sun-blocking skyscrapers, the peaceful droning of blimp advertisements telling you to get the fuck off the planet.

Blade_Runner

Where to begin? From the overpopulated endless urban hellscape, the utter rarity of actual animals, the flying cars, the rotatable photographs, the off-world colonies, the domination of Asia, the return in popularity of trenchcoats, and of course, the replicants. Blade Runner definitely wins on the ‘absolutely fucking impossible to achieve in less than 6 years’ front.

What needs to happen first:

  • Global war, space settlements, the death of the planet (and urban planning), vehicle levitation, hyper-advanced robotics. Everything. Absolutely everything.

Hell, I’m not sure this will be possible by 2119, let alone before the end of the decade.

Probability: -8000%

So there we have it: in the next few years we’re facing a rollercoaster ride of clonings, robots, flying trains, ultra-speed internet and 80s leather motorbike jackets. Better dust off those old minidisk players now, because things are about to get really, really weird.

(Honourable mentions go to Escape from LA [2013], The Postman [2013], A Scanner Darkly [2013], Event Horizon [2015], The Running Man [2017], Terminator Salvation [2018] and Day Breakers [when else? 2019])

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