Since the time human beings first became aware of the concept of tomorrow, there have been questions, predictions and ideas about our future.
While some of the human race worries about where we came from, an equal number worries about where we are going.
The past can be somewhat revealed by actual historical references, however perspective makes all the difference in how one views concepts of the future. Most of us will have had our opinions shaped by various media visions of what will be in our tomorrows and we have a multitude of scenarios from which to choose.
If you grew up influenced by Star Trek (any of the incarnations) you probably have a positive picture of the future. You see it as a time when multiple planets with numerous races and species will co-operate in relatively peaceful existence, respecting each other in our infinite diversity.
We will have found cures for killer diseases, and conditions. Poverty will be eradicated, and crime will be of the technological variety. Science and intellect will have triumphed over baser instincts, and people will be evolving into more caring and philanthropic societies.
The biggest problem of the Trek universe is the Borg, part human part automaton, and somehow one feels that even they have an Achilles heel that Star Fleet will discover. Personally if Star Trek is indeed our future, I am looking forward to a cure for cancer and an affordable holodeck.
Other media presentations of a possible future are not so bright as the Star Trek universe. Blade Runner, The Fifth Element or even Escape from New York depict a time ahead that is gritty, cruel, and full of deception. Crime is rampant, and the wide separation between the “haves” and “have nots” results in all out urban warfare.
Those who can, will lock themselves away from the outside world in personalized paradises that offer a degree of safety if not reality.
In a film like Total Recall, we see the ultimate degeneration of society, as something as necessary as oxygen is denied the lower classes, and they suffer terrible deformities from this lack and no one in charge seems to care.
In this vision of the future life has changed from something enjoyable, and treasured, to merely existing with the only goal being survival. It is more than a little frightening to think that society could very easily take this path.
The films 2001 and 2010 portray the future of human kind as still being filled with familiar problems, but that something outside of our realm of knowledge is about to change our perception of life.
This same feeling of being on the edge of something extraordinary is incubated throughout Close Encounters and Contact where humans are one step into a future that suddenly blossoms with positive possibilities.
And there are films where beings from other worlds come to Earth to give mankind a message, such as in both The Day The Earth Stood Still films and even ET. We want to believe that there is someone outside of our known world, the idea sparks our curiosity and fuels our inventiveness, hoping that these beings will accept, assist and befriend human kind.
Some stories depict the future as a controlled and regimented society, completely ruled by a government or an unapproachable force. We know this type of future from novels and as films such as Brave New World, Gattaca, Minority Report, Children of Men and 1984.
In Gattaca a society in the not too distant future humans are categorized and placed on a social scale by their genetic makeup. This gives some all types of advantages and consigns others to manual labor or serving the upper class.
Gattaca explores the life of Vincent Freeman, a man who is the last of the natural born babies, and who wants to go to the stars.
Unfortunately he has been placed as a laborer by virtue of his birth and unaltered genetics, and must fight society as a whole to break away from the accepted system. In Children of Men the year is 2027 in the UK, and the world has suffered through nearly two decades of human infertility.
The human race is about to become extinct, and it is the responsibility of one man to save the only pregnant woman in the world from being tortured or killed as an illegal refugee.
Minority Report set in the year 2054 has an even different take on society. In an experimental police force there is use of pre-crime predictions of mutant humans who have precognition abilities.
One member of the crime force learns that sometimes all three predictions don’t match, so the force uses the majority vision to make arrests, when in reality the “minority report” may be the correct version of what is to happen.
We’ve seen our future as war torn, with series such as Babylon 5, where through the years humans battle a variety of enemies and make astounding discoveries. As a human saga set in another universe, Battlestar Galactica has just finished its series.
Interestingly Battlestar Galactica is now offering fans a unique experience. With the background and format of the story being the future of the race, we are about to be told the story of how it all started in Caprica.
This will already be a futuristic society by our standards, but viewers have been promised the origins of the last battle for humanity.
This story is set 50 years prior to the last series, and exposes the polarization of the society into factions for human or for mechanical to take ascendance. In this pre-series television movie audiences will learn how it all began.
We will see the Adama family led by Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) vie for control of Caprica with the equally strong Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) with corporate dealings, a disregard for ethical behavior, and a complete devotion to personal ambition.
It is a beginning that will resonate with audiences in some of our own situations, and will simply whet our appetite for more of the story of Caprica and “the final war for humanity.”