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Problematic Prognosticating Per Present Past

Updated on October 9, 2012

One of the most frustrating things about science fiction (and one of my favorites), are the bold claims made in the genre that are ultimately proven false. This isn't to say these claims shouldn't be made. After all, one of the great things about science fiction is the ability to ask... What if? But while I appreciate the perceived realism that attaching a date to an event creates, writers in the genre have to know that it's ultimately a trap. After all, their claims will inevitably fall short.

Now obviously I couldn't list EVERY event from EVERYTHING on here. I mean, I'm pretty sure that there was no DeLorean spotted cruising the streets of Hill Valley in 1955 in an attempt to get home, but as the story has no way of being disproved either, I'll let it slide. But some writers get audacious with their stories and make outlandish claims that would effect most if not all of the world. It is with those in mind I present a time line of the future... flawed as it is.

1972 - The Icarus is launched on mankind's epic first interstellar flight, and promptly disappears. Discovering the ship may have been thrown into a time warp, a second rescue ship is readied and sent, traveling the same trajectory. PLANET OF THE APES (1969) / BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971)

1973 - The Icarus returns, landing off the California coast. Inside the ship instead of our astronauts, the world is stunned to find three English speaking apes. ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973)

  • The events of the original 5 PLANET OF THE APES movies are really a miraculous cycle. Watch all five of them in a row to gain new appreciation for how interlinked the series is. (Just don't talk to us about the Tim Burton remake. Ugh.) Unfortunately, no talking apes landed on Earth in the year of my birth.

1987 - "The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America's deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger III and it's pilot Captain William "Buck" Rogers are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support system and returns Buck Rogers to Earth... 500 years later..." Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979)

  • Glen Larson developed the show for TV in 1979, ridding high on the coat tails of the STAR WARS boom. Buck found a world that had suffered though a nuclear holocaust and had risen from the ashes but was in many ways still struggling. That part was fine, it was the claim of launching a space shuttle-style deep space probe that lands it on this list...

1990 - The Captain Trips superflu overtakes the world, killing 99% of the earth's population.The Stand (1990)

  • Stephen King's superflu technically wiped out the world twice, as the book was originally published in 1978 though it was set in or about 1985, and the new, "complete and uncut edition which features more material and was updated to year of it's publication. In either case,readers will be comforted to know that as of yet, the world remains open for business.

1992 - Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superman, rules one fourth of the Earth and is eventually overthrown in the Eugenics Wars. He escapes with 80 other augmented humans in 1996. Star Trek (1967), STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)

  • Khan and the concept of the eugenics wars were originally introduced in the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" and brought back for the later film, THE WRATH OF KHAN. While fascinating subject material and possibly the best villain in Trek history, to date, no supermen have conquered the planet.

1997 - "Three billion human lives ended on August 29, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgement Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare - the war against the machines." TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)

  • There are several dates for Judgement Day in the Terminator universe (Time travel will do that to you) but this is the one widely accepted as the most accurate, after the automated computer system Skynet was activated and became self aware. When the human authorities panicked and tried to pull the plug, Skynet retaliated by launching a nuclear strike against Russia, inciting a counter attack that wiped out most of humanity. Instead of the end of the world, the most notable headline was the Rais Massacre in Algeria.

1997 - The Robinson family blasts off from Earth in the Jupiter 2. Lost In Space (1966)

  • The Robinson's apparently missed out on the nuclear holocaust from Skynet, launching two months after in October. And while with enough money you can hitch a ride on a rocket tospace, so far no one has built one capable of traveling to another planet. And would you really want to take your family into space? How many times could they ask "Are we there yet?" over a distance of a couple million miles?

1997 - New York is walled off from the rest of the country as a maximum security prison, until Air Force One crashes within it's boundaries. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981)

  • 1997 was apparently a really bad year, as Snake Plissken could probably attest.

2001 - The Hal 9000 computer onboard the Discovery malfunctions during it's manned mission to Jupiter, killing four astronauts. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1969)

  • Based on the novel by Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick's vision of the future was hailed by some as the most realistic to hit screens, ever. We're still waiting.

2003 - Policeman Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma to discover a world in the grips of a zombie apocalypse. The Walking Dead (2003)

  • AMC scored the highest rated show in the network's history with the Frank Darabont produced television series, but it's based on Robert Kirkman's STILL on going comic book. Perhaps Rick and I run in different circles, but I'm glad not to have run into any walkers.

2009 - Terrorists detonate an EMP, destroying most computers and communications systems and plunging the US back into third world country status. Dark Angel (2000)

  • James Cameron's stab at television was dark and gritty and still a lot of fun. And ultimately... didn't happen.

2009 - The last child on earth is born. CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)

  • A gripping story of the future and the last days of humanity, but, my neighbor is pregnant now so... WRONG.

2010 - A joint Russian/US mission to awaken Hal and find what happened to the Discovery leads to the discovery of a higher intelligence in the universe, and the conversion of gas giant Jupiter into a white dwarf star. 2010: THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT (1984)

  • Visually arresting and much more emotionally connected than it's predecessor, but still wrong since we have no second sun.

2011 - A virus wipes out 99% of human population. AEON FLUX (2005)

  • Wait... Another virus? [looks around] Nope. Still here.

2012 - A virus turns 99% of human population into Vampires, gas prices hit six dollars a gallon on the east coast. I AM LEGEND (2007)

  • Still here, still kicking. Gas is high, but not that high. Wrong!

2012 - Turns out the Mayan calendar was right, this is the way the world ends. 2012

  • Better hurry up, there's only a few months left to prove this one right! (Yeah right!)

2015 - Marty McFly investigates a future Hill Valley where JAWS 19 debutes in theaters. BACK TO THE FUTURE II (1989)

  • I include this one on the list only because it's a mere two years away. Forget about the other 15 shark movies that haven't materialized yet, I wanna know why everybody in the future was driving a flying car. Look scientists, stop fussing around with the Higgs-Boson particle and get on the flying car thing already! You only have two years left! I was promised flying cars by the year 2000 when I was a kid, and you still haven't delivered! Get on with it!

2053 - The official cease fire and end of hostilities that marked World War III, but left 600 million dead. STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996)

  • Well, the Eugenics wars didn't happen, let's just hope they're wrong about this one too...

For more fun dates, here's an awesome infographic from SyFy, and another timeline of the future from IGN.


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