Six Prophetic Sci-Fi Novels That Predicted Our Strange Future
by Joshua Krause, The Daily Sheeple
It’s rather sobering to look back at novels like 1984 and compare it to the sprawling surveillance state we now live under, or read Brave New World and bear witness to our drug addled society, many years before it came to pass. But those books are just the tip of the iceberg. The science fiction genre is rife with imaginative stories that predicted the future, sometimes in baffling ways. In other cases, they proved to be so influential as to inspire others to bring their predictions to life.
Below are six science fiction stories that were so prophetic, it’s downright creepy. Seriously. Some of these are sure keep you up at night with their uncanny accuracy. Be prepared to have you your mind blown with…
One could talk for hours on all the subjects that H.G. Wells successfully predicted. However, The World Set Free stands apart from the rest for imagining a world with atomic bombs, 31 years before the bombing of Hiroshima. The way he described it as a “continuous explosion” that is contrasted with the “instantaneous” explosion of dynamite, is remarkably similar to what we would call a nuclear chain reaction. He also predicted the devastating widespread effects of nuclear fallout, and even the notion of having a portable nuclear weapon.
By the end of the story, he wrote that there would be a massive proliferation of these weapons among the world’s superpowers, and that these weapons would be called “atomic bombs.” However, as is typical of the utopian minded Wells, he believed that this atomic war would inspire the creation of a world government to keep the peace. Sounds like every NWO conspiracy theory I’ve ever been told about.
William Gibson’s Neuromancer not only spawned the cyberpunk genre, it also accurately predicted the creation of the world wide web, virtual reality, computer hacking, and the public’s obsession with new technology and plastic surgery. And all this was suggested in the year 1984, when the PC was little more than a glorified type writer and the internet was in its infancy.
For a book that was written in 1911, it’s hard to fathom how it could have predicted so many things that we take for granted today. The plot itself is nothing special. It’s just the story of a lovesick man trying to save the woman of his dreams with futuristic gadgets. However, what wows modern audiences is his uncanny descriptions of these technologies. Brace yourselves for a ridiculously long list. Ralph 124c 41(which is a play on the words “one to foresee for one another”) managed to predict video conferencing, solar power, artificial fabrics, social networking, electric cars, radar, transcontinental flight, tape recorders, movies with sound, voiceprinting, and spaceflight. Not bad for a magazine serial from the turn of the century.
What sets Snow Crash apart from the other novels on this list, is that even the predictions that weren’t on the mark, aren’t necessarily failures. Many of them seem like they might still come to fruition. Take the internet for example. Whereas Neuromancer predicted the internet, Snow Crash ironed out some of the finer details, such as fiber optics, mobile computing and surveillance, anonymity and avatars, memes, and Google Earth. However, author Niel Stephenson thought the internet was going to be a massive virtual reality, which was a bit ridiculous until recently. Now that virtual reality is making waves however, his ideas no longer seem so far-fetched.
But even without the predictions, it’s still a thoroughly enjoyable story. It describes a world where the United States has slipped into poverty and hyperinflation. The government is so financially insolvent, that they’ve sold off all of their assets to the highest bidder. The CIA and the military have become private corporations, and the federal government is so marginalized that they’re pretty much ignored by everyone (at one point, the president has to introduce himself to everyone because they have no idea who he is). This has caused a power void that is filled by a smattering of independent fiefdoms. What we would call nations, are now an interconnected series of city states and gated communities, ruled by mafias, corporations, and religious zealots. If he predicted everything else you have to ask yourself, are we currently on the path toward this strange future?
Like H.G. Wells, Jules Verne is well known for his accurate predictions. However, his description of a manned mission to the moon was surprisingly prophetic for being written over a century before the moon landing. In his book, From the Earth to the Moon, he predicted that the space shuttle would be made out of aluminum, it would be launched from Florida with a crew of three, and when it returned to Earth it would land in the Ocean before being picked up by a US Navy Vessel.
The shuttle had reverse rockets designed to decelerate the speed of the craft, and cost $12.1 billion to build, just shy of the $14.4 billion the Apollo 11 mission ended up costing. He even predicted that the astronauts would experience weightlessness in space, which nobody had really considered at the time.
It’s too bad Jules Verne didn’t leave us any stock picks.
For this book, it’s not so much what it predicted, as what it didn’t predict. Stand on Zanzibar was written in 1968, and takes place in the year 2010, in a world where the nations of Europe have banded together in an economic union, and the Soviet Union has been displaced by China as America’s chief economic rival. Terrorism has become a widespread problem and school shootings are rampant.
Africa is a collection of basket case nations that lag far behind the rest of the world, (keep in mind that at the time, most African nations had just achieved independence) Israel is a major point of conflict in the Middle East, and Detroit is in ruins after the manufacturing industry went belly up. Due to health concerns, tobacco sales are falling while marijuana has been decriminalized. The institution of marriage is crumbling and people use pharmaceuticals to aid their sexual performance.
And to top it all off, America has elected a president named Obomi.
Even the writing style of the book, which is chaotic and fragmented, feels right at home in our modern world of instant gratification and short attention spans. If you’d like to have your mind thoroughly blown, then look no further. The eerie accuracy of Stand on Zanzibar will do the trick.