In the past, we only dreamed of fantastic things. Through various dystopian novels, we imagined ideas and technologies…some technologies that exist in our world today.
Do you remember the 70s or the 80s? What about the times before? Maybe you’ve been on this earth long enough to remember as far back as the 30s and 40s. If so, you may remember wild tales of science and technology woven into wonderful stories of fantasy. Some of these dystopian novels produced daydreams and hopes for the future. Others have produced nightmares.
“I wasn’t trying to predict the future, I was trying to prevent it”
Predictions through dystopian novels
Some of these hopes for the future did come true. In fact, many of them did. Some of these things are magnificent inventions and discoveries, while others are horrific realities that fate has left upon our world.
When we were children and teens with some dystopian novel clutched tightly in our hands, we never dreamed that our future could produce such nightmares and fantasies…but it did. Here are a few things that did come straight from the page of our dystopian novels so long ago.
1. “The Machine Stops” (1909)
This dystopian novel hit the nail on the head. It’s parallel to today’s society is eerie in that it closely depicts the way that social media operates. In the novel, a dictator forces people to interact with others all over the world via a machine. During this interaction, people are coaxed to “like” things that these strangers do or say.
Now, we see some differences in this scenario, but there are more similarities. During this story, people start to decrease their outdoors time in favor of time with remote friends. They also start sending short statements to others in a fashion, not unlike Twitter.
The major difference in this comparison is that a dictator forced the characters in the story interact with the machine, while we are perfectly happy doing it on our own. Hmmm, I think history had awfully accurate with this one.
2. “Solution Unsatisfactory” (1941)
One science fiction short story by Robert A. Heinlein, tells the story of a major war before we were ever thrust into World War II. In fact, his story holds so many similarities that it’s almost as if he lived the experience and then wrote the historical details….all except for the fact that the main weapons of war from his story were used as biological weapons.
At the request to write about “radioactive dust”, Heinlein went even further to write about the U.S. playing the part of “world police”. Does this sound familiar to you? However, in the end, Heinlein writes that the U.S. powers were unable to keep this control. For those of us in the states, this prediction is pretty troubling I suppose.
3. “The World Set Free” (1914)
This novel written by HG Wells did more than predict the future of atomic weapons. In fact, after the physicist Leo Szilard read the book in 1932, he created the nuclear chain reactor and helped man the Manhattan project. He later gave credit to HG Wells for the liberation of atomic energy.
4. “Oryx and Crake” (2003)
In the novel, Oryx and Crake, we see two different predictions coming to fruition. First of all, in the novel, lab-grown meat, chicken breasts, and drumsticks rather, absent of other chicken parts, are common. In reality today, scientists in Israel are working on similar projects. These favored sections of the chicken are also being grown as kosher meats. Pork is also in the works.
As for the other prediction, Oryx and Crake also tell about growing human organs inside of pigs. These organs would be able to transfer smoothly from swine to the new human host. The truth of this story is that Japanese scientists are already working on this solution. They plan to grow human kidneys first.
5. “The Drowned World” (1962)
This interesting novel by J.G. Ballard speaks of an issue that’s been haunting us for a few decades. The issue of global warming seems to keep us pondering about the future of our planet.
In the story, a world forever altered by severe atmospheric changes seems unreal. In the book, America has become a tropical lagoon along with much of Europe. In the 60s, such images were only seen as entertainment and not a genuine threat.
Now, we understand that stories such as this could have been predictions of our future. While we may not see drastic changes all at once, our world is surely transforming because of our actions. Global warming isn’s just subject matter for a science fiction novel, but it is a real threat to our world.
6. “The Fun They Had” (1951)
When Isaac Asimov wrote this story, he only did it for fun. He had no idea how true it would someday be. In the novel, all education is done by computer at home. When the computers break down one day, the children learn about how schools used to teach lessons. The children of Asimov’s story were homeschooled and had never heard of schools before.
Now, there are differences between reality and this story, and there are also stark similarities. While there are many children still attending schools, there are also millions of them utilizing homeschool situations. Most children in the western world are doing the majority of their homework on computers now as well.
So, who knows what the future holds for the traditional schools. They may just disappear as in Asimov’s novel.
So, where is society headed?
I remember, as a child, reading things that I can now see with my own two eyes…and that was just back in the late 70s and 80s. I cannot imagine what it’s like for those born in earlier times as they witness the world today.
While I think change and technology are good things, I also get a sense of fear of what’s to come. How far shall we go, and will other dystopian novels ring true eventually? All we can do is wait and see…and wish the best for society…and the world.