After shaking my head over spending nine hours of a perfectly good Saturday watching TV, I have a few thoughts about the Planet of the Apes marathon that just ran on AMC. Most interesting to me was that the legendary sci-fi film franchise was born at about the same time as the World Future Society. In fact, the Franklin J. Schaffner-directed original (1968) was probably being filmed when THE FUTURIST magazine was putting out its first few mimeographed pages.
Never having seen any of the Ape films before, I appreciated the opportunity to watch them in sequence. Following the original were Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973).
The franchise spawned several generations of Ape fiction that continues to grow even now: I see a Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is in "pre-production" with a scheduled release date of 2014.
It's hard not to be charmed by the wit and humanity of chimpanzee protagonists Cornelius and Zira, so they kept me committed to the marathon at least through the end of Escape. At that point, I really wanted to see how the idea of the future as multiple lanes on a highway leading to different destinations would play out.
I think the writers really got it right on that particular view of the future, but there were still too many references to destiny and what is written for my taste.
The idea of proactively changing the future was also strongly present, especially in Escape: The sinister Dr. Otto Hasslein argued for doing something about all the world's problems, naming war and pollution (always big, but particularly critical in the late 1960s Zeitgeist) as most in need of attendance.
But then his solution went after the wrong problem. He wanted to kill the smart chimps to prevent the future they represented. Nobody thought to address the issue that created the problem in the first place: a global pet pandemic. Chase scenes and warring simians had more plot potential, I suppose, than pharmaceutical R&D to create a vaccine that would save mankind's beloved puppies and kitties.
Much of science fiction serves as an allegory for the present, so the heavy-handed bomb worship in Beneath could be expected. By the time of Battle, I'd given up hope of seeing any realistic vision of a future world. (There was even a battered school bus that somehow survived a thousand years after it had been built; even the windows were still intact before the battle.)
Without putting too fine a point on it, all ends well for the planet at the end of Battle, thanks to the accuracy of Hasslein's theory of lane changing. Species (races) begin to learn to live with diversity and equality, which was the only true hope for the future all along.
Cynthia G. Wagner is editor of THE FUTURIST.
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
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This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.