For science fiction writers in the past, it must have been fascinating to think about what the world would be like in 2024. Would space travel and flying cars be commonplace or would the planet be turned into a desolate, dystopian wasteland? Here are the answers that some movies and TV shows came up with.
The Undeclared War – 2022
Filmed in 2022, this British TV series looked at the possible result of a cyberattack happening in the UK. Since it was set in the near future, it didn’t show any out-of-this-world technology or bold predictions for how the world might develop. However, it lets us see how technology has become such a huge part of our lives and how any disruption to the internet could have a massive effect on the world.
In 2024, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, and virtual reality are some key aspects of the internet that have gone mainstream and captured the imagination of the public. Activities that would once have been unthinkable, like being able to play online bingo, are now common. With this example, the original game of bingo has changed little but going online has let it reach far more players. As well as bingo rooms with themed games, this site has live dealers beamed onto the screen and sci-fi games like Slingo’s Cosmic Clusters.
Highlander II: The Quickening – 1991
The success of the original Highlander movie in 1986 led to a sequel being created. 1991’s The Quickening jumped forward in time to reveal that Earth is protected by an artificial shield since the ozone layer was depleted. Widely considered one of the worst movies ever made, it turned the immortals from the first film into aliens and brought Sean Connery’s character back from the dead in a plot that wouldn’t have made any sense no matter what year it was set in.
One of the many reasons that this plot now looks so dated is that the ozone layer isn’t the massive concern that it was in the early 1990s. The European Environment Agency confirms that the reduction in the use of ozone-depleting substances from the late 1980s onwards has helped repair the hole in the ozone layer substantially. So there’s no need for the giant shield that was one of the most important parts of this story.
Beyond the Time Barrier – 1960
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, Beyond the Time Barrier features a U.S. Air Force test pilot who takes an experimental craft into space but then loses radio contact with the base. When he finally landed, he somehow ended up in 2024 and in a space-age city called the Citadel.
This year is shown as a post-atomic wasteland, filled with mutants and where no one can have children. It dates from a time when atomic bomb testing was a huge concern and many movies looked at what might happen if these weapons were used recklessly. While the atomic bomb was created in 1945, testing had become widespread by 1960, with France joining the US, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain as a nuclear power that year.
The plots of these movies set in the past reveal how difficult it is to accurately predict the future in science fiction. Their plots tend to reflect the main concerns of the public at the time they were written but that doesn’t always translate well when watched by modern viewers.