What better time to look at Back To The Future II’s future?
During the lifespan of this issue of SFX we’ll finally reach 21 October 2015. We’ve “known” what this day would look like for over a quarter of a century. In fact, we’ve long been counting down the days to take possession of our flying cars, to buy tickets for Max Spielberg’s holographic blockbuster Jaws 19, and to ride around on hoverboards – even those of us who struggle to stay upright more than three metres on a skateboard. Except, even as I write in mid- September, I know that the future Hill Valley we saw in Back To The Future Part II will have got most things wrong – and that’s why I love it.
When writers imagine the future, they’re not really predicting what’s going to happen. Sure, they can hire experts to help – watch Minority Report now, 13 years after its release, and it’s hard to believe Steven Spielberg didn’t have a hotline to the future – but really they’re doing what best services their story. Prescience is usually just a happy accident.
So while it’s cool when Star Trek predicts needleless injections, or even when Old Biff Tannen pays for a taxi ride with a fingerprint ( Apple Pay 25 years before it became a reality), it’s the stuff they got wrong that makes them more interesting. Now, as we get further into the 21st century that was once the promised land of the future, we get to look sideways at parallel worlds we’d like to have visited – or, in the case of The Terminator, be relieved we’ve avoided them.
It’s fun looking at how our lives could have panned out for a few twists of fate – and plausibility. When Blade Runner and Back To The Future II were made, mass- production flying cars or even a rubbish- powered fusion generator didn’t seem all that ridiculous. Obviously, neither idea has come to pass, yet the real world has seen the rise of mass- user computer technology way beyond what we’ve seen on screen – the anachronistic mish- mash is akin to steampunk.
Frankly the more outlandish or wrong the ideas, the better. I can live without wearing the doubled- up neck ties of Back To The Future II, but the fictional world is better for having them. And, despite what Einstein said, I still harbour a hope that sci- fi’s predictions of faster- than- light travel will become a reality. According to Star Trek mythology Vulcans are due to pass by in less than 50 years. I hope I’m still living long and prospering enough to say hello.
Rich is planning a Jaws 1– 18 marathon.