The Future That Wasn't

I started watching Blade Runner with my wife last night. This was an absolute favorite of many of my closest friends growing up. Chris, an aspiring actor, could quote Rutger Hauer’s dove soliloquy at the end of the film. For this reason, I have fond memories of it. I can remember leaving the theater with my friends and their bubbling post-movie enthusiasm. It was cool and it was different and Ridley Scott got it. It was reassuring to know someone in Hollywood got it. Yet the truth is, I was somewhat less smitten with the movie than they. Even then, I found myself craving a wider variety of emotions than the film seemed to think humans experienced. I knew it was cyber punk, which is a kind of futuristic noir, but still—are things really that miserable in the future?

It was my wife, the very antithesis of a science fiction fan, who noted, “The future is always unhappy.”

How right she is. Can you imagine pitching a book about how much better things are going to be in fifty years? Even though it flies in the face of the entirety of human history, even though we statistically kill each other less and love each other more, even though a person living in poverty today has more physical comforts (central heating, refrigeration, a horse-less carriage!) than a nobleman 500 years ago, we seem determined to only tell ourselves stories of our coming demise. Meanwhile, the past gets better every day.

Because now that I think about it, when Chris told me how great Hauer’s soliloquy was, I said something to the effect of, “It was drivel.” This hurt Chris’s feelings and generally lowered his opinion of me for a time. We’re still good friends, however, and probably always will be – all the way into that fearful, unknowable future.

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