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How Science Fiction Imagined the Year 2017

How Science Fiction Imagined the Year 2017

We’re living in the future! Maybe we don’t have atomic trains speeding across ocean or fleets of starships speeding to Alpha Centauri, but we certainly take high-speed internet, streaming media, and video calls for granted, don’t we? Surprisingly, 2017 is a year that many sci-fi films of yesterday speculated upon. Some saw robot insurrections. Others saw city-sized prisons. Most anticipated one dystopia or another.

Before we recount these films’ predictions and suss out what they guessed right or wrong, though, let’s revisit this most optimistic and outlandish vision of 2017offered by Soviet futurists in the 60s!

And now, some more… pessimistic views of the future.

The Running Man

Well, the one and only collab between Schwarzenegger and Stephen King obviously did predict the rise of reality TV and the way such shows use sneaky editing to build good or bad feelings for contestants. Hell, Arnie even just started hosting his own. Still, we aren’t watching live gladiatorial death matches yet. Or are we? The producers of a Russian reality show, Game2: Winter, just announced that everything–including murder–will be permitted in its next season.

Terminator Genisys

The machines keep deferring their take-over date. Judgment Day was first supposed to drop in ’97, then it got pushed back to ’03. The tangled time traveling threads of the latest installment seemed to finally settle on ’17 as the year Skynet (rebranded as “Genisys”) conquers Earth. Although, considering that all the ominous connective capabilities of this super computer have already been achieved by iOS, and since 2007 no less, perhaps the machines have already taken over?

Parks & Rec

Jumping over just a few years, this is certainly the shortest “flash forward” on the list. Tech company Gryzzl’s bid to offer free wi-fi to the entire city of Pawnee at the cost of data mining is obviously reminiscent of Google’s oft-repeated desire to make the internet available for all. Art has imitated life for Aziz Ansari, though. With Modern Romance, he’s become a notable author, just like his character.


2017 is actually just one stop in this flick, wherein a workaholic Adam Sandler uses a magical “universal remote” to keep fast-forwarding through the unpleasant moments of his life. He gets a dramatic illustration of his imbalance when he skips ahead 11 years and finds he’s neglected both his family and health in favor of his job. Sandler isn’t morbidly obese today, and we’ve yet to see any remote controls that manipulate time, but the confluence of Google Glass and Facebook Live pretty much does allow people to “edit” their lives in real time, now.

Barb Wire

In a plot that riffs on Casablanca, believe it or not, Pamela Anderson’s titular bounty-hunter-cum-club-owner fights to flee the Second Civil War and escape to Canada. Political divisions have certainly flared up after this last election, and though no states have seceded from the union as of yet, many Americans are still threatening to run away to the Great White North.


Another dystopia where imperiled Americans are trying to cross the Northern border. In this case, it’s Christopher Lambert and his wife who are evading a new one-child policy in the U.S. after they dared to conceive a second time. The man who laughs is quickly caught and thrown into a corporately-owned correctional facility whose wardens threaten to wipe his mind. We may be closer to private prisons than memory-erasing tech today but, ironically, this premise was obviously inspired by China’s one child policy, and the PRC actually relaxed that restriction in 2016.

What other times have sci-fi movies gotten their predications eeriely accurate, or hillariously wrong? Sound off in the talkback. 

Image Credits: NBC, Paramount, Dimension Films, TriStar Pictures, Gramercy Pictures, Columbia Pictures

Featured Image Credit: TriStar Pictures 

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