Take a trip back to the 50’s and you’ll see their idea of what the future would look like; all chrome and jumpsuits with lasers that make silly noises, and have antenna for some reason..?! This image of sci-fi has stuck in the head of the collective public consciousness for decades, and is used by basically all forms of entertainment as a short-hand for the future or just space.
I tell most people who’ll listen that I’m a huge sci-fi fan – Fantasy never did it for me in the war between the 2 fictions. The follow up to that will normally be whoever I’m talking to asking me “Oh so you like Star Trek?”… So I have to grit my teeth, cover up my Jedi tattoo and act like I haven’t been asked that a million times before! Star Trek is a creature of its time, no matter how many new series are produced or how big the budgets are for the films; Star Trek likes to stick with its classic style, smooth lines and bright colours and proper “pew pew” lasers.
It’s obviously popular still since Trekkies are a fan force to be reckoned with, but to me, that shiny side of science fiction has never done it for me. I love a bit of grime (Like actual dirt, not too keen on the music genre) and scrap metal in my universe. As I mentioned before, and a lot more in various other articles, my favourite fictional universe is easily Star Wars. That’s not to say it’s my favourite ever franchise though… That title has been held for year by Blade Runner! The 1982 cult classic about a man hunting down “Replicants” across a cyberpunk and rain soaked LA has captured my imagination since I first saw it, and has even lead to me changing my entire dress sense to fit the style at times!
What is it though? What makes me so attached to dirty sci-fi and not its clean cut brother? Easiest assumption is probably that I love it for looking more real. You know for sure if and when humanity manages to throw together a spacecraft capable of exploring the far-reaching edges of the cosmos, that it won’t look like the Starship enterprise. Function before form is the name of the game. It’s a safe bet that there won’t be white walls, silver trims and random lights laid into every surface. Star Wars has this in spades with the most famous of its craft, The Millennium Falcon, being about as pretty as a beaten up 1994 Chevrolet Impala with rust patches. Does that effect the performance though? Hell no! The falcon famously outstrips every ship it comes across. Of course it isn’t always a success from the get go though… Just like your piece of crap first car, the Falcon sometimes needs a little love (Or a swift kick to the manifold) to really get the power flowing!
It’s that touch of current day living that really sells sci-fi to me. Films and TV shows that try to predict the future as being this completely different world of teleporters and flying cars normally fall woefully short. It just becomes fun to laugh at them years after the fact. Let’s see a version of our current lives, but with a few advancements! Blade Runner does this so well that even though the film is over 30 years old and was set to happen this year, it’s still easy to watch and thinking “that still looks like how I imagine the future”. It’s bleak, dark but has bright skyscraper sized ads and flying cars… It’s not all bad, I guess?
I guess really it’s all come down to my first actual experience with sci-fi coming from the original Star Wars trilogy, which – as any geek worth his salt should know – was what popularized this form over function, ‘slapped together’ style of science fiction film. It’s what helped set it apart from its competition in terms of style, and opened the floodgates for other films and TV shows down the line to set this genre in stone.
Blade Runner, The Matrix, Snowpiercer, Altered Carbon, Blade Runner 2049, Edge of Tomorrow, Event Horizon, Moon, Ready Player One, Cyberpunk 2077… All these classics needed the running start Star Wars started for the awesome art and stories of gritty sci-fi!Become a Patron!