Monday, May 23, 2011

Movie and TV Science Fiction Can't Show the Real Future

My science fiction novel didn't come out of the blue. I've had plot points, characters, and technology ideas for it rolling around in my head since I was a teen. The ideas I have for future technology aren't so much ideas as they are things that I truly believe will happen (barring something happening that stops us from progressing).

I've recently been watching the follow-on series to Battlestar Galactica, called Caprica. I've also watched a ton of science fiction movies, such as my favorites Blade Runner and Aliens. What I noticed recently (since I've been doing a lot more active thinking about future tech) is that movies and tv shows always scale back the realism of technology in order to make things watchable. It makes perfect sense, since audiences want things to be watchable. However, it does mean that my book may not translate well into movie format, since I am being as realistic as I can.
In far future shows we still see people using things like cell phones or computers. In Caprica they have people putting devices over their eyes in order to enter a virtual world. See, I think reality will be far more impressive than that. I don't think interaction via calls or the internet will require any such devices in the not too distant future. I think we will have full digital/mind interfaces that will allow us to deal directly with trusted sources. Once we have advanced enough interfaces, they should be able to add a form of wireless to the interface, thus eliminating the need for external devices. We could 'see' anything necessary directly within our minds. We could place calls directly from mind to mind via the interfaces.

This all sounds fine, but it makes for boring movies. Cyborgs look cool when they have obviously robotic parts, rather than the more realistic version, which will simply look human. Putting a device over your eyes to see a virtual world works better for audiences, as does using an external phone, rather than the actor being able to do everything solely within the mind. I believe the more advanced we become, the harder it is to make our technology translate in an interesting manner to the screen.


  1. I think they'll do it like in the Iron Man movie, when you're inside the suit with him it is obviously not a literal of what can be seen externally. Artistic licence ftw!


  2. Some of the classic SF movies and tv shows suffered from lack of cgi. Most of the modern ones suffer from lack of imaginations and/or money.

    It's one of the reasons that sf books are usually much better than movies, or cgi films better than both.

  3. OMG, the borg are going to look just like us. How will we know it is them. I agree, the far future will be much more impressive.

  4. ok... you just got my inner paranoidconspiracytheorist screaming!!!! THAT SOUNDS TERRIFYING!!!!
    no one's interfacing anything directly to my brain! stay OUT of my head big brother!!!!

  5. Never thought of it that way, but you're right. Sorry, my world still had a form of computers. Of course, Cassans can communicate telepathically, so no need for cell phones.

  6. Victoria, in my story, the protections on wireless aren't as strong as for direct web connections (same as today), so people only allow wireless connections in their head with those whom they truly trust, such as family and close friends. That's just my story, though.

  7. Alex, if there is telepathy, why wouldn't they have developed devices to allow the telepathy to interface directly with networks rather than needing a computer? Just curious.

  8. I'm more of a Trekkie than a Battle Star Galactica follower, but your vision of the future sounds terrific, and I for one would love to be around to see it manifest itself in such a way. The mind to mind communication is actually something I like tinkering with in my fantasy WIP.