Faster than light-speed space travel, time travel, virtual reality, totally rad flying skateboards -- incredible innovations are the name of the game in science fiction. It's not just technology that's going to change either -- sci-fi often envisions a future where society has gone through a major overhaul as well.
That said, as much as some things change in science fiction, other things curiously stay completely the same. These are things we're diligently working to overcome right here, right now in the real world, and yet supposedly thousands of years in the future, or in galaxies far far away they've yet to be addressed at all. Hit the jump to check out some of the stuff most sci-fi thinks we're going to be putting up with forever...
Admiral Adama as played by a melted basketball...
I know, I know, we should all take joy in being the unique little snowflakes we are, but let's be real, the reason most of us don't get plastic surgery is because...
a) It's expensive.
b) It's painful.
c) You'll end up looking like a character from a motion-captured Robert Zemeckis movie. If you're lucky.
But none of those caveats should apply to most sci-fi universes. For instance, in Star Trek curing most ailments is a simple matter of waving a little device that looks like an electric beard trimmer over the affected area. Are you telling me it never occurred to counsellor Troi to wave the magic Trek medical device over that nose of hers after a check up? That some day we'll create an entire race of sentient robots, but nothing can be done about Edward James Olmos' face? Come on now.
This all goes for aliens too. Of course, maybe Neelix is considered attractive for his species...but I seriously doubt it.
100 years ago life expectancy in the United States was 47. Now it's 78. Apparently in the futuristic world of science fiction it will still be around 78. Not only that, but the sagginess, bagginess and hair loss that comes with getting old will hit us at more or less the same rate as it does now.
In other words, somehow we live in a world where an 80-year old William Shatner looks like this...
...and yet it's never dawned on anyone writing for Star Trek or any other sci-fi series that "heeey, maybe people might live, and look young longer in the future!"
We've all seen the ads on TV -- "1 in 5 couples now meet through online dating services!" Why? Because dating is awful. I refuse to believe this form of social torture would continue on in any half-decent futuristic society. Instead we'll all just hook our brains up to a giant database, which will match us with our perfect mate, and we'll all be happier for it.
Good work love computer, good work.
But in most sci-fi the social rituals required before you're allowed to introduce your genitals to somebody else seem to have barely advanced since the 1950s. Sci-fi series set hundreds or thousands of years in the future still show their characters awkwardly doing the dinner and a show thing. Sure, the flowers come from the 3rd moon of Coruscant and the dinner is fried Gagh with Cardassian ale, but otherwise your date options are still pretty much the same.
Not only has the process of going on a date not changed, but all sorts of messy hook-ups, workplace romances, and silly love triangles continue on as well. The heart wants what it wants and all that, but I find it hard to believe we'd still be going about things in such an inefficient way in the future. Why bother lusting after some random person in engineering when the love computer has already matched you up with a girl from mars who has the perfect personality, 3-boobs and is into stuff only a chick with a flexible silicone-based alien exoskeleton can be? Also, let's not even get into the kind of STD issues that would arise when a whole Galaxy of options is open to you.
You wouldn't believe the crazy sh-t most Vulcans are carrying around.
In other words, we really, really should have been spared this bullsh-t...
Where's an AT-ST when you need one?
...which brings us to.
Okay, I'm going to be optimistic here and assume not everyone in the future will be brewed up by geneticists and grown in tubes made from recycled plastic water bottles. I mean, sure, most of us will be, but there will still be a few actual pregnancies.
Maternity clothes will be as terrible as ever in the future.
So I'm not going to get on sci-fi series for having their female characters get knocked up, but I will take them to task for trotting out every possible pregnancy cliché when they do. Pregnant ladies in sci-fi still waddle around complaining about back pain and morning sickness, and when it comes time for the baby to come out it's a typical birth scene filled with screaming, sweating, and talk of dilation. We can beam anywhere instantly in the future, but apparently you can't just use the transporter on the baby and get it out of there. At least get the tractor beam workin' for you.
Hell, in series where mankind has mastered the art of interstellar space travel we still get to see women dying in childbirth. Yeesh.
"I...I'm going to die in childbirth? I mean, I...what? I'm sitting on a spaceship! I hang out with sentient robots! THIS IS THE FUTURE. What the hell guys?"
Humans love to kill things. Presumably aliens do too. Despite this, future weaponry hasn't advanced much beyond the basic gun and sword. Yeah, some of these guns and swords now harness the awesome power of lasers, but functionally they're still just guns and swords. Where are the truly novel methods of murder?
Let's move beyond this.
The current US military has already experimented with fun stuff like microwave pain rays, stink-based weaponry and yes, gay bombs. Mankind is nothing if not creative when it comes to causing suffering. Let's bring some of this creativity to sci-fi.
I want a sci-fi series with guns that open wormholes -- inside people's heads. Living weapons trained to sass-talk your enemies as they kill them. A new Star Trek weapon that puts your opponent into a coma with a concentrated stream of pure technobabble. Come on sci-fi, the possibilities are endless -- enough with the laser pistols.