I watched Tomorrowland the other day. It was a mildly enjoyable film – Disney produced, kid friendly etc. – but there was something I really liked about it and that was the fact that it tries to promote an optimism in the future. At times I think the film falters on its own premise, however it’s the big shiny bright glowing future that made it something I wanted to see.
I like optimism about the future. And it’s all too rare.
I can see why dystopias and faltering futures are two a penny. It gives a you an immediate source of conflict and drama ready built into the world within which the story is being set. Sometimes it works, we get a new and interesting way in which things have gone wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t and we get something that really doesn’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny.
The problem with optimistic views about our future is that we have to then externalise problems, overcoming something from outside. I think it this tends to lead to films that portray the human race as more adventurous; We have to venture out to find the danger.
The ultimate in this vein is reading books in Iain M Banks’s Culture series. Even though the culture is explicitly not humans, I confess that while reading them I, unless the text stated otherwise, always imagined the characters as being humans. Internally the majority of the problems have been overcome. Space, resources, technology have all advanced to realms that can only really be described as idealism. The drama comes from where this perfect society interacts with those it encounters.
Things don’t need to get that far removed from our present world however. Dan Dare was an excellent example. Arthur C Clarke used to write some brilliantly optimistic novels, especially the Rama series.
Perhaps we’re starting to head in the right direction.
The Martian was a prime example of science can overcome.
If SyFy don’t mess with it too much, the Expanse could be some great exploration. While the human race has it’s own conflicts and are instigators in many of the problems, much of the excitement derives from the unknown and the alien and how it’s dealt with.