images/header-icons-black-transparent/37.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Howard_Youngerwood_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/38.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Sanity_Clause_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Johnny_Cash_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Chirac_v_Sarkozy_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/36.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/49.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Credit_Crunch_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Aristotle_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/A_Modern_Guide_To_Geology_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/11.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/South_America_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/22.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Markets_in_a_Muddle_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/14.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Only_Fools_And_Horses_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Tremble_Leviathan_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/R_Lockwood_Jnr_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Howard_Marks_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/48.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/44.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/07.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/20.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/South_America_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Howard_Marks_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Sanity_Clause_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Markets_in_a_Muddle_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/22.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Tremble_Leviathan_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/07.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/37.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/38.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/48.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Only_Fools_And_Horses_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/11.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/44.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/14.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/36.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/20.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Credit_Crunch_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Chirac_v_Sarkozy_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/R_Lockwood_Jnr_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Aristotle_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/49.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Howard_Youngerwood_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/A_Modern_Guide_To_Geology_icon.pngimages/header-icons-black-transparent/Johnny_Cash_icon.png

What sci-fi can tell us about the future

What sci-fi can tell us about the future

Most science fiction is not predictive. Yet it can still be a guide to the future

IN “HIGH GROUND”, an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” first aired in 1990, a crew member of the starship Enterprise is taken hostage by separatists on the planet Rutia IV. As her colleagues discuss how best to respond, one of them draws an analogy with a conflict on Earth several centuries earlier—the Troubles in Northern Ireland—noting that they were ultimately resolved by “the Irish unification of 2024”.

As the 2020s dawn, the upheaval of Brexit means the prospect of Irish reunification no longer seems like science fiction. A poll in September 2019 found that a slight majority of voters in Northern Ireland were in favour of it. “We are still on track for the Star Trek unification timeline,” one fan tweeted. It is a striking example of a specific prediction being made in a work of science fiction. But despite perceptions to the contrary, such forecasts are the exception, not the rule. Just because sci-fi is often set in the future does not mean it is intended to be predictive.

Written: Wednesday January 1st, 8:14pm 2020