So the next big sci-fi show is on its way soon. Terra Nova is an epic programme which has cost Sky £200,000 for every minute shown and features a ruined Earth, a rift in space allowing time travel and Dinosaurs no less.
“Set in the year 2149, a time when all life on planet Earth is threatened with extinction due to dwindling worldwide air quality and overpopulation. Scientists discover a rift in space-time that allows people to travel 85 million years back in time to the Late Cretaceous period on the prehistoric Earth of an alternate reality, offering a chance to save humanity. The Shannon family join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway.” (From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_Nova_(TV_series))
My question is: Why does the future always have to be dystopian? It’s become a short hand for the future in Science Fiction; we know it’s the future because everything has turned to crap. There are so few books that start “It’s the year 2157 and everything was great really”. Okay, it’s not a great opener but you see this premise rarely, if at all.
It’s a contradiction for most people which has for some reason come to be widely accepted; science can be used to improve human’s lives but the future will still be crappy. A few examples of the dystopian future that spring to mind are “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “A Brave New World” and “The Time Machine”. Each has a dystopian future crammed full of either (or a combination of) wars, radiation poisoning, suppression of the masses and cannibalism. Brilliant.
One of the utopian futures that I can think of is that of Star Trek. A future where humanity has discarded money and strives to better themselves and humanity as a whole. They still have wars, sure, and they make for great stories, but these are external (as in aliens attacking rather than civil wars) to humanity which generally enjoys a good life.
I’m not saying it’s lazy, I’m not even saying it’s bad. I love dystopian novels as they tend to be richly detailed novels which present us with the author’s view of the future (whether accurate or not). What I am interested in is your view on sci-fi and dystopia; is it becoming the norm or is it just a great writing tool?
To see how much the idea of dystopian future has grown look at this list on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dystopian_literature.