Over the weekend I read Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, a post-apocalyptic young adult scifi novel. Science fiction is one of my favourite genres and if I ever were to make a top-100 list of must-read books dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels would snap up more than a few slots.
Without sharing spoilers the dark subject matter of this story reminds me of other terrifying visions of the future from books like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Book of Dave, I Am Legend, or The Gate to Women’s Country.
I could fill up several more paragraphs with additional titles but can think of only one more-or-less optimistic interpretation of what the lives of people in the future might be like: Star Trek. Gene Roddenbery’s stories have their flaws but one of the reasons why I’ve enjoyed Voyager so much so far has to do with how ordinary and hopeful life is there. As in our world sometimes horrible things happen but there isn’t that dank sense of despair that too often leeches out of other futuristic stories. There’s something refreshing about that.
If only we could travel to the future to see what is actually going to happen.
- Will a few shreds of humanity eke out a precarious existence in a violent, post-apocalyptic world?
- Will people three hundred years from now wonder how we ever survived with such primitive treatments for diseases like cancer?
- Will so many records be lost or destroyed that most of what future people know about 21st century life in [your country] will come from criticisms of it from other countries?
- Will the early years of this century be romanticized as a simpler, better time?
It also makes me wonder why we so often assume the worst about what is to come.
Is it because we know that millions, maybe even billions of people are living in our worst-case scenarios right now? Is expecting the worst part of human nature?
What do you think?