What 2019 is supposed to look like, according to science fiction

Remember when 2019 was but an arbitrary number representing the future? That’s no longer the case for us living in the present. Although, that’s how some sci-fi writer from the past saw our current year. 2019 to these people sounds like an absurd number of years. This mindset made some fictionist go off, molding their depiction of the future as they see fit.

Turns out that their version is far from The Jetsons’ kind.

Blade Runner (1982), The Running Man (1987), and Akira (1988) are some of the few titles that explored 2019 in celluloid. Dystopian book titles like Hiro Arikawa’s Library War takes place in this year. Same with My Chemical Romance’s final album Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys.

They see 2019 as a time where we’ve taken a huge leap in technology, while our socio-political views have taken a backseat. These sci-fi titles tackle a beautiful yet bleak future ahead of us. Now, that does sound a lot like life in real time. But how close is fiction to the truth? Let’s take a look at the plots of the sci-fi titles mentioned above.

These following Japanese sci-fi titles see 2019 as an archaic year. Akira envisions 2019 Tokyo as a city drenched in neon, plagued by anti-establishment citizens, cults, and protestors what have you. This theme reoccurs in Library War, where the Japanese government has banned any form of media that they deem “potentially harmful” to their society.

On the other hand, some Western sci-fi films based in the year 2019 portrays future as something cold and calculating. Blade Runner is a gritty sci-fi film noir set in a technologically advanced metropolis, tackling the ethical limitations of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics (also see: android slavery). This directly inspired My Chemical Romance In Danger Days. Their concept album is set on a dystopian future were the renegade Killjoys battle BL/ind, an evil corporation hellbent on brainwashing the world for a better tomorrow.

 2019 in these tales is a time where we’ve taken a huge leap in technology, while our socio-political views have taken a backseat.

The Running Man is still a dystopian piece, but it’s more of an Orwellian parable. It revolves around a common man living in a world where a man’s innocence is no longer weighed through the justice system. Rather, justice is weighed through a reality show where they need to fend for their lives.

Now that the truth is catching up with (science) fiction, these sci-fi titles see humanity’s future as fucked up. But is it as bad as they say it will be? How similar are their views of the future to our current present? Let’s see if they hit all the marks.

By dissecting science fiction’s predicted fashion trends to socio-political standpoints, we’ll gauge what this year might have in store for us. Let’s just say…2019 is going to be interesting.

In fashion: We’re all fashionable as hell

2019 in sci-fi stands for technological industrialization at its highest peak. The cites are drenched in the warm glow of LED screens. Our hopes are no longer entangled in red strings, it has been replaced by red copper wires. Smog covers our skies. Everything is artificial. 

But damn, we turned the fuck up for the future! Say goodbye to track pants and baggy hoodies. 2019 is all about leather, plastic, and outrageous digital fashion choices. We are here for it. 

Our hopes are no longer entangled in red strings, it has been replaced by red copper wires. Smog covers our skies. Everything is artificial.

The Capsules’ bomber jacket in Akira? An iconic piece to die for. The entire wardrobe of Blade Runner isn’t bad either. From Zhoar’s simple yet chic transparent coat to Prius’ look that embodies cyberpunk to a tee, 2019 sci-fi fashion didn’t come to play. It came to slay us with laser guns and sharp looks. 

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The future is now. . . .

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Are we there yet?
Yes. Well, a bit. Streetwear-inspired pieces still dominate the fashion zeitgeist. That being said, some pieces from these sci-fi titles has inspired designers from different parts of the globe. Even ours.

Vogue, Refinery29, and Independent UK embraced plastic fashion in late 2017. It ranges from Givenchy’s transparent plastic clutches to Chanel’s entire SS18 RTW collection. As for Akira’s iconic bombers, Supreme took a stab at the Japanese anime’s style in their 2017 collab. 

We might be closer to that cyberpunk chic fantasy than everyone thinks. A local clothing brand here is bringing Filipinos to 2019’s sci-fi realness. AOIGIRI’s techwear oozes with cyberpunk inspiration with their militarized half-zip pieces and neoprene leggings in their latest collection drop.

In Technology: Frolicking at The Uncanny Valley

They’re human. Human in features, movement, and even thinking. But there’s a fine line in the sand drawn by technology. Objects wrapped in silicon, shielding circuitry and wires within, while we remain mere flesh and blood. Both of us are “organic,” but how real is real?

Through Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, we see them as things, an advanced computer or a technological feat. Never an emotional being.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? We still don’t know for sure, but they have been sci-fi’s most favorite subject. It’s almost impossible to the disassociate androids from the genre. Through Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, we see them as things, an advanced computer or a technological feat. Never an emotional being.

In sci-fi’s version of 2019, that’s not a case. Androids are often portrayed as an ethical and moral dilemma. Blade Runner’s plot solely relies on the existence of androids called replicants, which are treated as second-rate citizens. In My Chemical Romance’s album and eventual comic book series Danger Days, androids are also seen as an oppressed species in the hand’s of the human race.

Are we there yet?
Well, we’re getting there for sure. There’s no doubt that android technology reached a high feat based on recent years. But as technology bounce from feat to feat, the way to success is getting hella creepy.

Do you know about The Uncanny Valley? It’s the unsettling feeling we get when we see realistic androids. Last 2018, we’ve been threading that valley with latest scientific marvels. Take Sophia the Robot for instance. Not only is she eerie as hell, but she also threatened to destroy humans during SXSW last year. That definitely confirms our anxiety on technology.

Our current androids are far from the spitting image of humanity. We’re far from having replicants, yet so near to the possibility of its conception. Don’t know how to feel about android slavery though. Apologies to Asimov, android slavery still sounds wrong on so many levels.

In music: Slaughtermatic sounds are the future

We dream of the future. Buildings on buildings towering over us. The former rat race of cars below is now hovering upward. EDSA tarpaulin billboards are the thing of the past, larger than life LED billboards are the future.

As it is in Danger Days, music’s future is a melting pot of sounds where musicians can make genre hybrids of fuzzy punk with laser effects if they want.

But as we frolic in a city built on circuitry, do we ever wonder what sounds will dominate our airwaves? For the blueprint of 2019’s sound, we’ll refer to My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days album. Lead singer Gerard Way describes the album’s mythos to The Quietus as ”a struggle of art vs. commerce and filth vs. corporate clean up, and freedom being a dangerous chaotic thing that’s very hard to achieve, versus a kind of utopian situation.”

To translate their mythos into soundwaves, Danger Days wasn’t committal to one genre.“Queen, Green Day, Black Flag, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cure… even Bon bloody Jovi. All classic influences, all bleeding together in an album that does that rare thing: combining the past to create something new,” BBC Music’s review of the album dictates. 

Genre dies in 2019. As it is in Danger Days, music’s future is a melting pot of sounds where musicians can make genre hybrids of fuzzy punk with laser effects if they want. Musicians will rebel to the contriction of genres.

Are we there yet?
Somehow. Categorizing every sound in genres is getting more difficult. Though the strict concept of genres is looser, innovation in today’s music became the new constant.

The song remains the same, but everything is a remix. Hip-hop tracks today isn’t purely hip-hop as proven by Kendrick Lamar, Tyler the Creator, Childish Gambino, and more of their contemporaries. Alt-rock isn’t limited to the simple set up of bass, guitar, drums, and vocals either. Music today has evolved in a more collaborative and imaginative space, especially with technology playing a huge factor in music’s current evolution.

In Politics: All Hail, Big Brother!

Privacy evolved into a loose concept for government officials. CCTV, web cameras, phone cameras—heartlessly watching our every move. Conversations become soundbites ready for playback. The only way we can feel intimate now is through our government’s petrochemical arms.

Instead of brute wars, we are replaced with pure discord of government vs. society.

Dystopia is a term every reader of this piece is probably tired of reading. But hey, it’s the common theme of these sci-fi titles. Their plots reflect the murky collapse of the government. Entering 2019 means entering the darkest timeline of humanity. Instead of brute wars, we embrace pure discord of government vs. society.

Library War, Akira, and My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days tackle the destruction of public peace and privacy. Library War and Danger Days foresees the government addicted to censorship, getting pure control of dissenting information, while Akira subverts this theme by having an archaic society reign above the government.

Blade Runner and The Running Man focuses on what our ethos will be during the Golden Age of Technology. The Running Man shows an Orwellian nightmare where reality shows unjustly dictate the middle and lower class’ mortality, while Blade Runner questions humanity’s moral maturity in the face of the digital revolution.

Are we there yet?

We are halfway there. Androids might not be humanity’s best friend just yet, but dictatorial and fascist leaders are ruling various powerful nations. America has Trump while we have Duterte. Mainland China, on the other hand, made Black Mirror’s social point system a reality last year.

The concept of privacy is also dead. As the subhead of VICE’s article on surveillance memes reads: “Surveillance memes are everywhere because it feels like surveillance is everywhere.” It’s true in every sense of the word. Take this report from The New Yorker last year for instance. They reported Amazon’s Alexa recording a conversation that was “‘accidentally” sent as an audio file to one of the user’s employees.

“The government can obtain information with minimal judicial oversight,” the writer of The New Yorker piece emphasizes. And with city streets flooded with CCTV, dash cams, and other monitoring devices—big brother has his eye on us. The sad part is we are getting used to it every minute.

Art by Marx Fidel


Rogin Losa
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