Tales of Future Past v2

Go to content

Main menu


Future City > Urban Utopias

Welcome to Everytown. Get it? Everytown? Subtlety, you know.

H. G. Wells was one of the finest writers of his time who did much to create science fiction as real literature rather than a load of mere genre potboilers. He was also one of an all too familiar breed -- a man of letters who adopted socialism out of genuine concern for his fellow man and ended up having tea with bloodstained-monsters like Stalin.

In 1936, Wells wrote the screenplay for Things to Come, a drama about the next hundred years of human history that Wells himself openly referred to as "a propaganda piece." Things to Come describes how the world is destroyed by a decades-long war using aerial bombardment and poison gas, which is then saved by a self-appointed body of enlightened technocrats who conquer the world using aerial bombardment and poison gas. They then establish a one-world scientific government and use their talents to build gigantic underground cities for the human race to live in. This utopia of 2036 is perfect -- assuming that you really, really like stark white art deco.

You can see the sort of city that Wells had in mind from Oswald Cabal's office in Everytown. It has that same dramatic impact, bold lines and utter lack of comfort that one usually associates with Euston station or most modern airports.

Call it Early Trek.

LITTLE GIRL: "They keep on inventing new things now, don't they? And making life lovelier and lovelier?"

OLD MAN: "Yes.... Lovelier -- and bolder...

So goes a history lesson where a man tries to explain to his great granddaughter why people live underground, never see the sun, never breathe fresh air, and why this is so much better all around. It's less like Utopia and more like those Japanese hotels that are basically upholstered lockers. One comes away with the impression that Mr. Wells didn't really care for nature all that much and preferred  a society where everything could be neatly controlled like components in the huge machines the film featured.  

Thing is, people have a cussed tendency to refuse the part the social engineers have assigned for them. They have their own minds and they hate being press ganged into acting as foot soldiers in the march to someone else's paradise -- especially when they do not regard progress as an unalloyed and unquestionable blessing.

Cal, you're creeping us out

Not so their ruler Cabal, who regards such sentiments as backward-looking and counter-revolutionary and is quite happy to literally blast people off to the Moon with little hope of a safe return so long as it serves to forward progress and man's ultimate conquest of the entire material universe. Do NOT put this man in charge of the NASA safety committee.

Come to think of it, I'm not too sure I'd want to hang around Cabal too much. All that  talk about conquering the Universe and that glint in his eye makes you expect him to stick his arm out straight and run around the room shouting "Exterminate!" in his best Dalek voice.

Back to content | Back to main menu