It’s been a little while since the last Remember When post, and this week I am not quite ready to dive back in for our next decade. Instead I wanted to take us off the path and highlight a list of dystopian and post-apocalyptic societies that were on the page as well as on the screen.
Note – (not really all that surprising) Phillip K. Dick (PKD from here on out) absolutely OWNS the dystopian future genre.
And with that here is my list of apocalypse fiction for your consideration:
“Blade Runner” (1982) is a cult classic. And it’s (loosely) adapted from PKD’s short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (1968). PKD got an early viewing of what Ridley Scott had for the film before he died and was very pleased that Scott captured his own vision of how the world should look. (And of course the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049” is out there now – while it’s on my must watch list, I haven’t quite gotten there yet).
“1984” (1984) Released the same year as the title may have seemed like a clever idea, the events of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four occur the same year, reducing some of the concern, at least at that time. Now it’s heralded as a prophetic novel (although it’s often debated that A Brave New World is a little more on point with what the future actually turned into).
“The Running Man” (1987) – the movie based on Stephen King’s The Running Man (1982 as Richard Bachman) starred Arnold Schwarzenegger during his pumped up leading muscle man prime.
“Total Recall” (1990) The original with Arnold Scwarzenegger, not the remake in 2012 with Colin Farrell. Seems like the T-800 from “Terminator” landed comfortably into the dystopian future. PKD’s 1966 short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” inspired this one.
“A Brave New World” (1998) is the film adapted from Aldous Huxley’s 1931 novel, which is often mentioned in the same sentence (if not the same breath) as Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
“Minority Report” (2002) – I did mention PKD is insanely all over the dystopian landscape, right? His 1956 short story was used for the basis of this Tom Cruise movie about thought police, strange times we live in where this idea seems more real than it did a couple of decades ago.
“A Scanner Darkly” (2006) brings Keanu Reeves back in a very life-like animated movie (the strange animation actually creates the sensation of questioning what is actually real, something I think PKD would strongly approve for his 1977 novel of the same name).
“I Am Omega” (1962) / “I am Omega” (2007) / “I am Legend” (2007) – all three of these movies are inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend about a plague that turns the infected into zombie or vampire-like creatures.
“Fahrenheit 451” (2018) for the writerly and readerly types is a true dystopian horror with outlawing and burning books adapted from Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel. It’s eerie how much Bradbury predicts about how he saw future technology and society, luckily so far my books are safely on their shelves, not alight in the street.
And of course the honorable mentions – “Soylent Green” was a book first, Harry Harrison’s title wasn’t quite as catchy though, Make Room! Make Room!, Franz Kafka’s existential novel The Trial was on screen in 1962, “Planet of the Apes” was adapted from the french novel Le Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle, and of course it would be remiss of me to overlook “A Clockwork Orange”, the Divergent series, or Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series (which is very reminiscent of The Running Man, but if you haven’t read both please do and let me know what you think).