I am Legend and other tales of dark futures

I am legendFor my first movie outing of 2008, I am planning to see I am legend starring Will Smith. The movie is based on the book I am Legend by Richard Matheson, written back in the 1950s. It also formed the basis for The Omega Man which starred Charlton Heston in the Will Smith role.

Movie makers seem to like nothing better like an apocalyptic future – zombies, mutants, monsters and freakazoid plagues are all grist to their mill.

The Carhullan ArmyThere are plenty more nasty futures to read or watch. The Carhullan Army won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize last month and it portrays a world where war is raging in South America and China, and Britain – entirely dependent on the US for food and energy – is run by an omnipresent dictatorship known simply as The Authority. Assets and weapons have been seized, every movement is monitored and women are compulsorily fitted with contraceptive devices.

Reproduction and fertility are often an important part of these future worlds. In Children of men by P D James, recently made into a movie starring Clive Owen, no children had been born for many years and the world is a grey tortuous place and one of great risk to a young woman who is pregnant. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (also made into a movie) also shows a future where fertility is rigidly controlled.

Pivotal stories of dark futures include: 1984 by George Orwell, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.

Many science fiction writers have made the dystopian future a central part of their vision. Dystopias lists more books on frightening futures and post apocalyptic worlds and there are many good lists of Dystopian movies online – think The Matrix, Soylent Green, Planet of the Apes  …