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Bald women, talking dolphins and communism around the world: how science fiction writers described 2024

'13.12.2023'

Alina Prikhodko

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It's always fascinating to re-read old science fiction novels that depict a future that has become reality for us. Some works make you smile with their naivety, others impress with the accuracy of their predictions, and some make your hair stand on end. Media portal Caravan.kz. collected the most incredible variations of how our present was described by science fiction writers in the past.

Yes it's a plague

The oldest novel that describes the year 2024 is The Scarlet Plague (1910) by Jack London. The book begins with the fact that in 2013, the world was engulfed by an unknown disease. By 2024, doctors discovered a vaccine, but it was too late and the world plunged into darkness and chaos.

The infected tried to escape from the epidemic-ridden megacities in the provinces, and soon there was not a single corner of the planet where the dangerous infection had not reached. After the coronavirus pandemic, the novel is even more interesting to read. There is hysteria about quarantine measures, and storming of stores, and nihilists who do not believe in the scarlet plague, and religious fanatics who consider the vaccine a devilish potion.

Unfortunately, when the novel was republished in 1949, many scenes were cut out. But the writer’s vision of our days has been preserved. Lightning-fast airships roam the sky at a speed of 320 km per hour (modern passenger planes fly about three times faster), instead of trams, people ride on monorails, and if someone needs to send an urgent message, telegraph operators sit on every corner.

The ending of the novel is sad. By 2073, there are only 400 people left on Earth. The old people are still somehow trying to preserve the remnants of civilization, but their grandchildren are turning into something like Neanderthals.

Com of memories

In Ilya Varshavsky’s story “There are no alarming symptoms” (1963), the future only at first glance seems happy and rosy. By 2024, humanity has already built communism all over the world, there are no wars for a long time, science and medicine have stepped forward by leaps and bounds, and even centenarians feel like they are 20 years old. The only thing that poisons people’s lives is the dark memories of the bloody 5th century. But here science came to the rescue. In the clinics of the future, negative memories can be erased in just XNUMX minutes.

On the subject: We asked artificial intelligence what New York would be like in 2050 and 2100: here's what it said

The main character, a hundred-year-old professor, decided to take advantage of this. He was born in the year of Ilyich’s death, experienced devastation, war and fear of a nuclear apocalypse, and this memory did not allow him to live in peace. But the procedure turned out to be so radical that the memories of his wife, son and entire years of work for the benefit of humanity were erased. As a result, the professor became an eternally happy fool, and the soulless machine displayed the message on the monitor: “There are no alarming symptoms.”

2024, according to the author, will be hectic. People won’t have enough time for romantic acquaintances and dates, so they entrusted the creation of ideal couples to a supercomputer.

In another story by the same author, a man with a belated midlife crisis trusted a soulless machine. The main character had been married for forty years, but on a dreary autumn evening he suddenly wondered whether he had lived with the right woman all his life. Maybe “the one” is walking somewhere very nearby? The man secretly sent a request to the machine, and the answer made him happy. The computer reported that his wife was the ideal woman for him.

But the happiness did not last long. A message came from the computer that, unfortunately, this woman is compatible with a completely different partner, and the man is only 12% worthy of her. The story is not far from current reality. Dating sites are gaining popularity on the Internet, where algorithms calculate the ideal match.

Virtual unreality

The plot, where everything is fine in 2024, but this is not enough for people, and they want to make their lives even better by trusting electronics, is very popular among science fiction writers. In film «13th Floor" (directed by Jozif Ruznak, 1999) technology has made it possible to create virtual worlds indistinguishable from real ones.

Photo: IStock

Billionaire Hannon Fuller spends all his free time in a computer reality reminiscent of Los Angeles in 1937. In 1999, he returned reluctantly, because he had to run a business and communicate with his family. But by the end of the film, a terrible truth awaits the hero. It turns out that 1999 is also an illusion. In fact, he is stuck in a special capsule, and it’s 2024.

Soviet cartoon «Three Novels" (directed by Elena Barinova, 1986) is too boring for children's fiction. It raises environmental issues that are little understood by children, and is too banal for adults. The script was written in 1984 and takes place 40 years later. Sometimes it seems that the cartoonist flew into the future for inspiration.

In the first story, a bee desperately hits the glass to get to a flowering meadow. Then it turns out that this is a giant screen on the roof of a skyscraper, and there is not a blade of grass in the entire city.

In the year the cartoon was created, even home TVs did not provide a high-quality picture, and only a person with a good imagination could imagine that a giant HD-quality TV set on a skyscraper could do this. However, there were already prototypes of such a screen in the West, although the picture quality was noticeably inferior to the current one. The artist could imagine how this technology would develop in 30-40 years.

In another short story there is an episode that seems to have been filmed in our days. Two boys dream of technical wonders. On the wish list: a car with a GPS navigator, virtual reality glasses and, most interestingly, wireless earbuds. Not only are they stored in a special box, but they are also decorated with a logo very reminiscent of Xiaomi. This company appeared in 2010, and headphones began to be produced in 2015, that is, almost 30 years after the creation of the cartoon.

"Tolerance" as an insult

It’s curious, but in the mid-2024s, Russian writers decided that in XNUMX everything would be very bad. There was no coronavirus or war yet, and relations between the West and Russia were quite smooth, and there were no special armed conflicts in the world. Except that oil began to get a little cheaper, and people started talking on TV about the coming financial crisis.

In Yuri Nesterenko’s novel “Self-Defense” (2009), the UN was dissolved as unnecessary, the USA broke up into two states, the liberal North and the conservative South, where blacks are lynched, LGBT people are persecuted, and the word “tolerance” sounds like an insult. There is a civil war between capitalists and communists in Cuba.

Photo: IStock

Russia got it too. The Chinese occupied Siberia, and the oil in the bins ran out. Actually, oil is not needed, because cars run on electricity, and cars are made only in Japan. Cash and passports are being replaced by a chip embedded under the skin, and the whole world is struggling to recover from a series of economic crises.

В «Mechanics of Eternity" by Leonid Proshkin (2005) the main character is visited by a guest from the future. He said that in 2014 Russia will be conquered by Iran, and Islamic radicals will turn the United States into radioactive ash.

Communism is one for all

The world of 2024 in the series "Guests" (1983) against the backdrop of pessimistic forecasts it looks very attractive. Almost the entire series takes place in 1984, only occasionally we are shown 2484. But in the first episode there is an explanation that the world has become like this in 2024 thanks to the efforts of the most brilliant scientist of all time, originally from Slovakia.

So, by 2024, humanity launched a super-powerful computer that turned the Earth into paradise. There are no more wars, all weapons are hidden at the bottom of the ocean so that historians can study them. The money is in the same vault. The supercomputer built communism, and the banknotes are only valuable as a historical artifact. There are no dangerous microbes in the world, and a special device cures any illness in 10 minutes. People eat powders that, when mixed, turn into familiar dishes and then become a jelly-like mass. Dolphins are recognized as an intelligent race and enjoy the same rights as humans.

Since the French had a hand in creating the series, there was a piquant detail. Nudity has been considered the norm since 2024, and the appearance of a naked beauty in public does not shock anyone, and ladies’ outfits are revealing. At the same time, for some reason, women of the future shave their heads, wear wigs and consider it a terrible shame if someone sees their bald head.

Space, reception

In Ray Bradbury's 1950 sequel to The Martian Chronicles, space travel has become commonplace by 2024. Rockets are in the yard of everyone who can afford an expensive toy. And those who can’t, rivet spaceships in their garage. Flying to Jupiter or Venus is no more difficult than going on a picnic outside the city. True, poor romantics look with envious longing at the inaccessible starry sky.

Mars has been colonized for a quarter of a century. People destroyed the ancient culture of the Martian race and built up the red planet with houses in the style of America in the 50s. Colonists from small towns gossip, in the evenings they feel sad about old lady Earth, eat hot dogs and watch movies. No one yet knows that in just two years the world will end.

In Sergei Lukyanenko’s story “Stars are Cold Toys” (1997), intergalactic flights today are just work, and not the most prestigious one. The fact is that a group of scientists from Moscow State University has discovered a way to travel millions of light years in an instant. After this discovery, an alliance of alien civilizations, called the Conclave in the novel, contacted us and allowed earthlings only to carry cargo and do other dirty work in space. It is impossible to refuse, because the Conclave is too strong and will quickly suppress any protest.

Becoming an astronaut is now easier than becoming a minibus driver. Roaming the outskirts of the Universe is extremely dangerous work, but aliens gave immortality to space truckers. Whatever happens to the astronaut, he will then be created anew. But this gift is dubious. The aliens torture the Conclave's opponents to death, revive them, and brutally torture them again.

It also became known that the Conclave deliberately slows down the progress of the captive races, which is why the Earth in the novel is dull. The unemployed are allowed to live for free in a crappy motel room, are fed tasteless surrogates, and the only technical benefits available are a computer with limited Internet, on which you can only read the news and get a job. There is also not a word about access to Instagram; apparently Lukyanenko also considers it an extremist organization.

Tipun to your tongue

Speaking about creative prophecies, one cannot help but recall «The Simpsons." The longest-running animated series in history has predicted the future more than once, and quite accurately. Over 30 years in the series, fans have found predictions for September 11, a pandemic, the death of celebrities, and even the exact date of Donald Trump's presidency.

On the eve of 2024, fans rewatched the series again and found out what the coming year has in store for us, according to the yellow men. I must say, the forecast turned out to be frightening. In one of the episodes, a nuclear mushroom surfaced above Springfield, and in the news release you can see the date - May 5, 2024.

Also this year, Bart's class displays a world map with the USSR on it, with Sweden, Finland and Norway included in the updated Soviet Union, and for some reason Ukraine is highlighted in pink.

However, in another edition in 2024, Russia remained Russia, and the country even submitted an application to the Olympic Committee. But the application had to be withdrawn because there was a default and in just a few seconds the exchange rate was 1000 rubles per dollar.

In one of the episodes, the numbers 2024 are emblazoned on a gravestone. If you pause the cartoon, you can read that Joe Biden is buried there. Back in 2024, according to the creators of The Simpsons, Donald Trump will win the election again, and 4 years later he will completely destroy the United States.

But you shouldn’t be afraid of prophecies. As you know, the creative team deliberately launches such inserts in order to stir up public interest in the animated series. It’s better to hope that a scientist will come soon who will drown all the weapons in the ocean, teach us to talk to dolphins, and ladies to wear transparent dresses without a bra, than that the world will end.

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