10 Works of Retrofuturist Fiction That Were Wrong
Futurama comes back tonight! Are you excited? We’re excited. So excited that it got us thinking about all our other favorite books and movies that imagine the future for us, and how wrong some of them have turned out to be.
It’ll be along time before we can say as much about Futurama (990 years, give or take), so we’re going to pass judgment on 10 other works of fiction that tried to predict the future… and didn’t quite make it.
- Web Buzz: Number of Google results for the item.
- Wikipedia Pageviews: Number of times the item’s Wikipedia page was viewed last month, from stats.grok.se.
- Prescience: How well the work predicted the future that it envisioned.
For our purposes, a work was considered to be retrofuturism if it was set in a possible future of our own reality, and the viewpoint from which it was written is outdated in some way, or we’ve already reached the predicted point in history. This disqualified a lot of things that would otherwise be legitimately retrofuturist (or will be some day). Transmetropolitan, for example.
There were three very common reasons for the predictions made by the items on this week’s Power Grid to fail:
1. We are not as worried about global nuclear war as we used to be. Fear of terrorism and catastrophic biological weapons have replaced those old phobias.
2. Almost no one predicted the Internet. And those who did expect some kind of world wide instantaneous communication could hardly have anticipated what that sort of thing did to commerce, artistic expression, and global culture.
3. An unexpected dwindling interest in space exploration over the last half century.
Want to see who got it right, and who didn’t? Robert A. Heinlein vs. Neal Stephenson, Jules Verne vs. George Orwell? Well, then check it out!