You’ve probably heard the phrase “science fiction is a gateway drug to science” before—and it’s true. The genre encourages kids and adults alike to set their imaginations free and envision the world of tomorrow. And while some of the greatest sci fi writers are better than others at predicting how technology will change our lives, there are some who have nailed their predictions right on the head. These ten stories show that even if you’re not a rocket scientist or an engineer, you can still accurately predict what’s going to happen in our world:
George Orwell & the year 1984
George Orwell is best remembered for his dystopian novel “1984,” which he wrote in 1948. The book came out two years later, in 1949. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything and no one can escape its reach—not even your thoughts.
The story is about Winston Smith, who works at the Ministry of Truth and alters historical records to match what Big Brother (the authoritarian leader) wants people to believe about the past. When Winston meets Julia, he realizes that she doesn’t feel the same way about Big Brother as everyone else does; she believes that there might be another way of living outside of this dystopian society they live in now. The two fall deeply in love and eventually decide they must commit an act of rebellion against The Party: They will get together without being discovered by any surveillance cameras or microphones placed around their apartment building or neighborhood spying on them 24/7 (sound familiar?).
This book was published after WWII ended but before the Cold War began—when many thought nuclear war was imminent between America and Russia (it wasn’t). We aren’t really living in a world like George Orwell imagined yet… but it’s not far off either!
17 Years Ahead of the Curve
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a classic of dystopian literature, but it also seems to predict the future in some pretty accurate ways. Published in 1953, Bradbury’s story envisions a world where books are banned, and firefighters are tasked with burning all books they find. This may sound like an extreme exaggeration at first, but we’ve seen it happen in some cases: from Nazi Germany to Russia under Stalin, authoritarian governments have often tried to censor literature that doesn’t fit within their ideologies.
So what does this mean for sci-fi authors? Well, if you’re writing about a totalitarian regime that censors art or even bans it altogether (like Fahrenheit 451), we’re probably going to be headed there as well—just not quite yet. But before you write off your dystopian novel idea as impossible or far-fetched, remember that most things go through phases before they become reality; maybe you’ll get lucky enough to see them come true first!
Ray Bradbury & Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451, the classic novel by Ray Bradbury that was published in 1953, is set in a futuristic world where books are banned. As a result, firemen are tasked with burning them (hence the title). The main character of this book is Guy Montag, who starts out as an enthusiastic firefighter but then begins to question his job when he meets an older woman who still has books in her possession.
The book paints a picture of how easily people can be manipulated by their government and how prevalent censorship has become—and it’s not far off from what we see today!
Written in 1953, Published in 1953
Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451 was published in 1953. It’s about a future where books are banned and firemen burn them.
This book is one of the most famous examples of predicting the future correctly, but there are many more Sci-Fi authors who got it right as well:
Isaac Asimov & Robots
In his fiction, Asimov created a set of rules that would govern the behavior of robots. These laws are:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Asimov was well aware that the development of artificial intelligence would require robots to be able to make choices and decisions on their own, which is why he made it a point to state in his stories that robots must always obey human orders. The problem with this statement is that it assumes humans will have control over all robots at all times, which doesn’t seem likely given how quickly technology is evolving today.
13 Years Ahead of the Future (Technically)
H.G. Wells’s The World Set Free was published in 1914, a mere thirteen years before the atomic bomb was developed by scientists at Los Alamos. In this novel, Wells describes a world where atomic weapons are used to bring peace to the planet and end all wars once and for all—a prediction that has yet to come true.
H.G. Wells & Atomic Weapons
- H.G. Wells was an avid science fiction writer, and he was credited as the first person to predict the use of atomic weapons in his 1903 novel The World Set Free.
- In War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of Wells’ 1898 novel, aliens land on Earth with intent to destroy humankind with their advanced technology and weaponry.
- The Time Machine is a classic sci-fi story about a man who travels into the future where he finds that humans are no longer dominant on Earth due to mass extinction events caused by nuclear warfare between nations around our planet’s equator (sound familiar?). In this book, humanity has divided itself into two distinct species: The Eloi and Morlocks—a division which mirrors today’s class structure where humans have become dependent upon robots for labor while being served by them at restaurants or grocery stores like they would be served by any other employee at work or school today!
Written in 1914, Published in 1914
Written in 1914 and published in 1914, the year 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of this book. During that time there have been two world wars and since then things have gotten a lot better for us humans on planet Earth.
So what do you get when you combine all those things? You get this novel which is set in a very different future to our own. It’s about warring nations with technologically advanced soldiers who fight an ongoing battle against each other—but not always with guns or other weapons used today! The main character is an American man called Julian West who was frozen by doctors at some point before they were able to cure him from his sickness. They did manage to freeze him though so he could be revived later on when they did find a cure for his illness—you know what I mean?
Philip K. Dick & Drones
In 1955, Philip K. Dick wrote a short story called “The Minority Report.” This story was about a future where people were arrested for crimes they had not yet committed. The authorities used precognitive police officers who could predict when someone would commit murder and arrest them before they could commit it.
In the early 2000s, technology started to catch up to what science fiction writers predicted 50 years earlier in this case. That’s right! Predictive policing is now real—and it’s quite similar to the concept of “pre-crime” described by Dick and other sci-fi authors (the term “predictive policing” was first used by criminologist George Lachmann).
Predictive policing uses computer algorithms to analyze crime patterns throughout entire cities or regions over several years, even decades (for example, looking at where burglaries tend to occur). Then authorities plan patrols based on those predicted trends so that police are more likely to be where crime may happen next than if they simply responded randomly following calls for service from citizens reporting crimes as they happen.
59 Years Ahead of His Time (Almost)
Philip K. Dick was born in 1928 and died in 1982, so he only lived to be 54 years old. While he didn’t live long enough to see his predictions come true, there are still many examples from his work that turned out to be accurate. The most prominent example is the movie Minority Report (2002), which is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick written in 1956 called “The Minority Report.” In this story, crimes are solved before they occur through the use of psychics that predict future events with high accuracy — including murder — thanks to clues left at crime scenes by the perpetrators themselves! The prediction of this technology came true when it was realized that people can be identified by their DNA at birth; this is what makes up our unique fingerprints and genes!
Science fiction authors are actually predicting the future
You might be surprised to discover how many science fiction authors have accurately predicted the future. The reason you’re surprised is because it’s easy to assume that sci-fi writers are just making stuff up and don’t really know what they’re talking about. But many of them do have a pretty good grasp on what’s happening in the world around us, even though their stories are set in distant galaxies or far-off centuries.
Yield To The People provides these examples to show how science fiction authors are actually predicting the future. Some accounts of future predictions have also occurred with the works of the best sci fi artists. They can be considered prophets of technological change, as they use their imagination to visualize possible futures. In this way, these authors are helping us prepare for what’s next by giving us an idea of what might happen if society continues on its current path.