To­tal Re­call

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Richard Ed­wards, Editor

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.

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