Name: Escape from New York
Written in: 1981
Set in: 1998
Name: Escape from New York
Written in: 1981
Set in: 1998
That is the title of a slightly surprisingly good article from Wired, slamming the stunningly bad track record of various groups when it comes to predictions of looming catastrophe - and that 'surprisingly good' is not meant to be a reflection on the magazine; more like a reflection on the oddity of finding people willing to deprive our modern apocalyptic cultists of their 'fun' via the administration of objective reality. Besides, author Matt Ridley is to be commended for taking the next logical step of bringing up global warming, particularly since the first batch of Great Prophecies of Climate Change DOOM are past their sell-by date (Ridley even calls out IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri for declaring in '07 that '12 was the 'tipping point').
Just... one quibble.
This would be a comment on the movie, not the book (I haven't read the book). Watch this clip: notice what's missing? Yup. People who aren't white. A somewhat common theme in 1970s and 1980s-style post-apocalyptic film, alas: apparently, Caucasians are apparently particularly prone to survive the End Times. Either that, or Hollywood had a bad habit of not hiring minorities for crowd scenes, let alone supporting roles. The application of irony in this is left as an exercise for the interested reader. Moe Lane PS: Yes, I know: it hasn't happened yet, so we don't know that it won't turn out this way. Still, I think that we've safely avoided a world where the young are running it (and apparently, literally into the ground)...
It's not particularly earth-shattering or anything, but while consulting my copy of GURPS Ogre in preparation for the release of the game later this year I noted in the book's timeline that this year (2012) is supposed to be the one where the USA runs out of oil.
Which is, of course, not even remotely true. But it's based on assessments that a lot of people took seriously ten to thirty years ago - and, to be fair, those people were generally acting in good faith when they received the information, even if the people that disseminated it may not have been - so expect a rash of curiously-dated gaming and SF material to intrude on one's consciousness. So it goes.
Sorry, folks: I did have one to go over - Branch Point by Mona Clee (alt-history written by somebody who was perhaps a little too upset over what happened to Bill Clinton)... but then I realized that the 'why it's relevant' would have been 'because it made Moe waste two bucks at the used book store over a decade ago.' That probably isn't enough.
So let me just cheat and note something (SPOILERS):
This is not quite a 'real' CfD, but it is kind of interesting: If only to remind folks that doom-mongering has been going on for quite a while. I also have some critical things to say about the short alternate history story "Dispatches from the Revolution" - which is a story that draws heavily on RFK as a change point - but I haven't decided which website to put it on yet.
Name: Car Wars, by Steve Jackson Games
Type: Board/Roleplaying Game (armored and armed car warfare on the dystopian highways of a future America).
Written in: 1980, to begin with; there have been multiple supplements since. 1996 is the publication date of the latest roleplaying supplement (GURPS Autoduel).
Set in: 2030-2046; I'm doing this one because according to the official timeline Rounds One and Two of Everything Turns To Crap were supposed to have happened by now.
Why it's a dystopia: For our purposes? Well, at this point the country's supposed to have lost Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana in a civil war; legalized blood sports; watched the environment go Full Metal Ehrlich; and suffered through a decade of domestic terrorism. And this is the part of the timeline that the future inhabitants are going to be nostalgic about.
Why it's significant: Honestly? Much as I love this game - and I do, I do - I'm doing it because it's a handy referent to peak oil in popular culture.
What happened? Well, the environmental estimates were as accurate as they always were - for some reason, radical Greenies really do tend to forget that rich people breathe oxygen, drink water, and metabolize organic material, too - but it's the peak oil thing that is probably the tell, here.
Name: Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
Written in: 1949
Set in: ...1984.
Why it's a dystopia: The world is broken up into three super-dictatorships, two of which are always at war with the third; everybody is spying on everybody else, everybody lives in more or less abject poverty, and eventually the secret police comes, takes you away, tortures you until you break, and then shoots you. Also, you can't turn off your television set. Everything in that first sentence may or may not be true, by the way, even in the context of the book.
Why it's significant: You probably read this book in high school. Also, every politically-motivated online idiot on the Left will eventually reference this book while whining about whatever the Right's done, or thought to have done, or is incorrectly alleged to have done this week (don't smirk; there's a similar problem on the Right with regard to Atlas Shrugged). Nineteen Eighty-Four has also more or less interjected itself into our popular culture, and to a certain extent our language. All in all, it's probably the most mainstream piece of masochism porn in Western literature.
Name: It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis.
Written in: 1935
Name: The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
Written in: 1985
Set in: At a guess, probably right about now. I'm kind of pushing it - 2015 might be a safer date - but what the heck. Definitely the coup should have happened already.
Why it's a dystopia: Extreme - extreme - gender repression, coupled with all the rigorously accurate and scientific depiction of ecological/nuclear disaster that we've come to expect from liberal arts majors. A good deal of racism, also (including a soupcon of the usual petulance from the Left that modern Evangelical Christianity has found good, sound, Biblical reasons to avoid anti-Semitism like the plague). Oh, and there's like, heavy infertility and so forth (note the previous sneer about liberal arts majors*).
Why it's significant: It is widely rumored that (at least during the latter 80s/early 90s) proof of possession of this book be demonstrated by any individual seeking a bachelor's degree or higher in Women's Studies. It also got turned into a movie, which was also apparently required watching. And, to be fair, on a technical level it's fairly well-written.