Podcast Idea: Future Now Past

A podcast about stories set in the once future, now past.

Description: The movie Annihilation Earth opens with a team of scientists exploring a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The year? 2020. In the season finale of the TV show Glee they flash forward to the year 2020, to show Sue as Vice President under Jeb Bush. Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep (the short story that inspired Blade Runner) was originally set in the “future” of 1992. I Am Legend predicted an outbreak that wiped out society in 2009. Science fiction is constantly depicting a future world, and the future keeps happening, often eclipsing the fiction. On this show, we revisit science fiction that has predicted futures that have now past, explore why the creators might have picked that year, and talk about what didn’t (or did) come true. Very conveniently, there is an entire Wikipedia list dedicated to just this.

Host: Kendra James*

Executive Producer: Rose Eveleth**

Comps: Flash Forward meets You Must Remember This

Sample Episode 1: Iron Sky In 2018, America (under the rule of an extreme-obvious Sarah Palin parody character) sent a mission to the moon only to discover that in fact the Nazis have been there this whole time. This is the plot of the incredibly bad movie Iron Sky, which I am also obsessed with. It is extremely bad. There is a sequence in which a black actor is “turned white” by the Nazis and dressed in a Nazi uniform, somehow doesn’t realize it, lands back in Harlem, and attempts to speak to some kids playing basketball. This is supposed to be a funny scene. Okay, I digress, the movie is “set” in 2018. We didn’t get a moon mission in 2018, but some elements of the movie aren’t that far off from reality: we did get a reality TV star as president, who sees space as away to win PR points. On this episode we discuss what Iron Sky got right, and wrong, about the year 2018, and why.

Sample Episode 2: Sk8r Boi It has now been nearly 20 years since Avril Lavign released the song Sk8r Boi. Let that sink in. Death is coming. Anywho, the song actually includes a line about the (then) future:

Five years from now, she sits at home
Feeding the baby, she's all alone
She turns on TV, guess who she sees?
Sk8er boi rockin' up MTV

Five years from 2002 would be 2007, which of course has passed. Were people still “rockin’ up MTV” in 2007? Yes, but the channel’s “rockin’” future was not long for this world. On this episode we talk about what a mere five years can do to a music television station, and a pop star like Avril, who in 2007 was ranked eigth in Forbes’s 'Top 20 Earners Under 25', with annual earnings of $12 million.

Sample Episode 3: Parasite (the other one) The 1982 movie Parasite might not be one you’re familiar with, but it features the now-famous Demi Moore in one of her first roles. Also you can watch it in 3D now? The movie is set in what was then the future, and is now the past: 1992. The movie depicts a future in which the United States is run by a group called “The Merchants” who force an unwitting scientist to create a deadly parasite that winds up, of course, infects lots of people. There was no lab-created parasite in 1992, but that year was the one in which AIDS becomes the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25 to 44. On this episode, we talk about infection narratives and their ability to address very real epidemics sweeping society.

Audience: Nerds who like a little bit of context with their sci-fi.


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* Hosts and guests have not signed on in any way. I’m making stuff up here!

** This newsletter is for fun. Ideas belong to their initial creator, credited here as Executive Producer. Don’t be a dick and don’t steal these ideas. If you love a show, and really want to get it made, get in touch with the person who came up with it.

Long live independent podcasts. Long live bad ideas.