Life in 2236

I have to tell you, life in 2236 is great. Couldn’t be better. Except for the thoroughly evil and technologically superior Empire that the pitifully under-equipped and out-gunned rebellion I work for is trying to overthrow. But that’s okay, because even though we’re smaller and less well-armed, we’ll still prevail against impossible odds to save the day (and the world!). Especially considering that even the best-trained Imperial super-commandos never hit what they’re shooting at, and our new-recruit infantry manage to peg every target they squeeze a few rounds off at.

Other than that, life’s pretty spiffy.

Although, there is the Artificially Intelligent computer created by a team of researchers a few years ago that has gone criminally insane and decided that it needs to purge the planet of us humans. Right now the AI is holed up in some city, building its army, but we’re going to wait for them to make the first move. Better that a few million people die than we destroy them while they’re vulnerable. Civil rights activists scare me more than a few lousy death robots, anyway.

Other than that, existence in the 23rd century is mostly decent.

Well… Earth still needs to deal with the small matter of the alien armada that’s come a few hundred thousand light-years to scour our planet of every last workable resource, leaving us a lifeless hulk floating silently through space. This doesn’t really make much sense, when the aliens could find those same resources in much larger quantities in uninhabited locales throughout the galaxy. But that doesn’t matter much, because they’re here, they’re so technologically superior that we can only defeat them by the sheer ingenuity of the human race, and – oh wait, never mind. Word just came in that we just destroyed their mothership with a single shot that exploited their one weakness. Huh, go figure. Luck, I guess.

Living in 2236 is alright, I suppose.

It’s alright if you ignore the masses of poor people caught starving on the streets between feuding crime lords that control almost everything, except for what the super-rich societal elite control with their wealth and influence. The police, of course, exist only to provide the illusion of authority, but nobody ever actually cares about justice or betterment of the people, and the less fortunate are reduced to living in shanty towns and selling bodily organs to survive. In spite of all this, everybody has a grand old time using advanced technology that is still around against all odds and reason.

Damn, I guess life in the 23rd century pretty much sucks…

Science fiction clichés are becoming more and more important to us, not only because they shape our ideas of how to craft universes in science fiction, but because the culture of the past fifty years has given many people a deep-seated desire to live in The Future, to experience culture and inventions that are “futuristic.”

Many science fiction archetypes have come and gone as scientific progress shows that they’re not really feasible, or even supersedes them. Many still remain in our fiction. Many have even bled into real life, either by the happenstance of a sci-fi author coming up with something that really gets invented later, or by the simple fact that most people in our culture are acquainted with these archetypes, if only to some small degree, and work them into their thoughts and design for new products and fashion. Have you taken a good look at the stuff that Apple is making these days? There's a stylishness to it that's informed not only by generalized tastes, but also from our ingrained expectations about how technology should look.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is in The Fifth Element, where the future is heavily influenced by our pop-culture ideas of what the future will be like: architecture, fashion, and technology have strong overtones of Star Wars and other popular sci-fi.

Here’s a small listing of famous clichés, both obsolete and timeless. It’s fun to see which ones have had real-life influence and which haven’t. Sorted alphabetically to avoid prioritizing them.

See also technology inspired by science fiction, science fiction archetypical technology, and science fiction archetypical military technology.

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