A post at Book Bub: Sci-Fi Set in the 2020’s Predicted a Dim Decade for Humanity
Now that we’re firmly entrenched in the 21st century (which for a long time was shorthand for ‛the future’ in sci-fi), it’s fascinating to look at all the stories set in this particular decade to see how past SF masters thought things were going to go. One thing is abundantly clear: No matter how bad you think the decade is going to be, sci-fi writers think the 2020s are going to be worse.
The author of the post, Jeff Somers, then goes into detail about some of the horrifying, dystopian, or extinction-level events that take place in novels set in the 2020s.
The sheer variety of doom sci-fi has imagined for this decade is impressively exhausting: Body-switching apocalypse (Dollhouse), time-warping alien invasion (Edge of Tomorrow and its source material, the novel All You Need is Kill), artificial intelligence genocide (The Terminator)—you’re hard-pressed to find a fictional 2020s that isn’t absolutely terrifying.
As Somers points out, apocalypse is fun! Easier to write a novel set during or after an apocalypse than a novel set post-scarcity.
Here’s a fun post on the same topic:
There have been other looks ahead to 2020. I have a 1974 science fiction anthology cleverly titled “2020 Vision.” Editor Jerry Pournelle commissioned eight stories that would be set in 2020. He wanted realism of a sort. … “The ground rules on this book were simple,” Pournelle wrote in his preface. “Each author had to write a story which he truly believed could take place in the real world during the year 2020.”
2020 Vision is a clever title for this kind of anthology. I immediately feel like I should have thought of that.
Evidently the predictions were mainly misses — no surprise there. From the sound of it, the contributing authors took the “truly believed could take place” requirement, well, not all that seriously, let’s say. There’s one story that almost sounds halfway plausible — diets enforced by computerized guardians. Kind of a “Sorry, you can’t order a burger, have a nice sprig of parsley and a glass of water!” dystopia.
Click through to the post for a description of the stories. And if you happen to see a copy in a used bookstore, grab it quick, because it’s way out of print, not available as an ebook, and $55 as a used book at this moment.