– by Michael Ritchie, staff writer –
None of us knows what the future holds. Scientists, psychics, writers, astrologers, meteorologists, futurologists and Nostradamus have all made incomes out of trying to guess what’s coming next, so far with varied results. But if we bounce into the distant future, we may find that society runs in an unrecognizable manner. Here are six potential futures for humanity.
In this future, old society has long collapsed, though there are remnants of it here and there. People have evolved so they can see only one color of the spectrum. Society is now divided by who can see which color, with the purples at the top and the greys at the bottom. The country also now runs on the rules of an old-fashioned boarding school; prefects rule the lower orders, and communal breakfasts, curfews and morning assemblies as par for the course.
Eddie Russett, a red, is sent with his father to an outlying town to learn some humility and conduct a chair census, a pointless task created to get him out the way because those in charge don’t like him. Eddie, unfortunately for them, is one of those people who asks questions and has ideas. Out in his new town he meets Jane, an angry young grey who seems to have more answers than Eddie could ever dream of, and he must make sure he doesn’t get married to aristocratic Violet DeMauve.
Imagine 1984 as written by Douglas Adams and you’re halfway to the sort of thing this book is.
In this future, women rule. Set 200 years after our time, the world is highly technologically advanced, and war and disease are things of the past. Women had been becoming more and more prevalent in world politics and science, and by now they outnumber men five to one and are truly the dominant gender.
Into this world flies Gavin Meckler, a man from our time, who is confused by the new world. He seems to serve as proof to women that perhaps the men of the early 21st century were not all as violent and misogynistic as they had been led to believe. Gavin finds himself battling with a new kind of technology that allows him to know everything immediately, as well as dealing with the Weaver Women, a fringe group that believe men should be left to die out entirely.
In this future, Britain has been split up into four component parts, each one containing people of a certain personality type. These types have been based on the Ancient Greek practice of studying the four humors; blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. The country is divided into four quarters, one for each of the personality types (sanguine, melancholic, phlegmatic and choleric) under the logic that if balancing these in the body creates good health, then balancing the country should do the same.
Thomas Parry is a government official for the Sanguines in the Red Quarter. In a rare chance to cross the borders, he attends a conference in the Blue Quarter of the Phlegmatics and discovers how he life may have been before the country divided. This is the start of a journey through the country as he tries to work out who he is, and whether the balance of the country has indeed been restored by this new way.
In this future, women are objects. Raised in special schools, girls are taught how to be beautiful, how to judge other girls, how to keep their weight perfect, and how not to be too intelligent. After all, what man would want an intelligent wife? Corralled into these horrific schools where every surface is mirrored and they’re encouraged to point out one another’s flaws, they are being trained to become perfect wives or concubines for the world’s men.
frieda (the girls names don’t even have capital letters, further denoting their low status) is awaiting the Ceremony, where she may be chosen by a potential mate. She’s more concerned about her friend isabel though, who has started gaining a lot of weight and distancing herself from her old friends. But with the ranking tables now revealing that frieda is no longer #1, she is running out of time to make sure she can get the best husband.
In this future, reality television has has become even nastier. The world is falling apart and reality television has taken over, with everyone hooked on these awful, degrading shows. People continue to clamor to be on them, however, because of the massive rewards.
Ben Richards desperately needs money for his sick daughter so applies to take part in The Running Man, the most dangerous show of all. He must go on the run and survive for 30 days. Success will net him $1 billion, but his face is on every TV screen, there are rewards for people who report sightings of him to the authorities, and the current record is only eight days. Everything is stacked against him, but no contestant has ever been this desperate.
In this future, books are banned. Firemen are now employed to burn any they find, as well as the possessions of anyone caught with a book. Society has fallen and people are obsessed with television instead. Most people born into this world have never even seen a book, let alone possessing a desire to read one.
Guy Montag is one of these firemen. While burning down a house one day, he steals a book before any of his colleagues notice. When his boss becomes suspicious, he arrives at Montag’s house to tell him that all firemen eventually steal a book out of curiosity, but as long as it’s burnt within 24 hours, no one will get in any trouble. Montag reveals to his wife that he has several books in his possession, and that they are going to read them, to see if they indeed have no value. Montag is soon sure that there’s something terribly wrong with this world that could be fixed if only they could find a way to go back to a world of literature.
So, there you go, six possible futures for humanity. If you have any more recommendations, leave a comment below and spread the word.
Michael can usually be found sitting in a comfortable corner with a glass of wine and a good book. He has a collection of shoes that would impress Imelda Marcos.