RCL #8- Paradigm Shift



-brief history of sci fi (mary shelley to star wars to now) and how much our life/pop culture is saturated with it (aka: why this is relevant)

-establish that sci fi amplifies current worldview and projects it onto future


Thesis:  The tone of science fiction changed from one of optimism and advancement to one of dystopia and regression due to environmental crisis, technological stagnation, and threat of nuclear war/ Government unrest/societal regression???? [Gotta clear up this prong].


Body 1:  Pre 1960s sci fi and world view

  • Very much so optimistic about future in terms of technology and society, environment not even a factor
  • Problems addressed tend to be with technology being Too Advanced and how human psychology adapts to it.  Some address the government, usually in terms of it becoming too controlling
  • (connect to assertion that sci fi projects worldview onto future)
  • Examples- Stories from the Illustrated Man, The Jetsons, Ralph 124C 41 +, etc etc etc
    • Things that illustrated points brought up earlier, mixed in with assertions.


Body 2: Sci Fi Now and world view (80s- today)

  • Very pessimistic about future in terms of environment, technology, and society/government (dystopia)
  • Problems addressed: climate change/natural disaster, energy shortages, nuclear war, societal and/or technological regression, extreme social stratification, totalitarian governments (often disguised as utopias).
  • Examples: Mad Max, Hunger Games, Wall-E, Interstellar, Revolution, 2012, Fallout video games etc etc find specific examples to fit analysis


Body 3: The shift time period (60s-80s)

  • Here is where sci fi started shifting from optimistic to pessimistic view of future
  • Not an instantaneous shift- at beginning mostly optimistic but a few pessimistic dotted in there (Them! (and other nuclear monster stories)) and at the end it’s mostly pessimistic with a few optimistic ones (Back to the Future and Star Trek


[Here is where the analysis of change starts]



  • First part of century, environment not on public radar, not addressed in sci fi.  After nuclear bomb, some worries about nuclear radiation expressed in sci fi monsters
  • In 60s and 70s, environment comes into public view- Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Earth Day, and Climate change grace the scene.  Nuclear Fallout  Fossil fuels become unstable as energy source- oil embargo, conflict in middle east, rapidly depleting sources, etc– WE BECOME AWARE IT’S UNSUSTAINABLE.
  • These problems only increase in severity and imminence as decades go on, especially global warming and fuels.  
  • We start to see effects- coral bleaching, increase in natural disasters, ozone layer.
    • World view of imminent danger, don’t see quick enough change >>> sci fi environment usually post-apocalypitic, dealing with extreme results of climate change, etc.  Lack of resources, desert like environments. Results of radiation (whether nuclear or solar) seen in characters and animals.


Social/political issues

  • Okay so these existed the entire time but the nature of the issue changed from Big Brother to extreme social stratification and totalitarianism ala hunger games (capital vs the districts, mad max fury road, etc (i swear there are more examples))
  • Events like watergate, kent state shootings, clinton scandal increase distrust in gov and tension between it and citizens >>> sci fi has super controlling/evil govs, whether outright (like in hunger games) or more subtle (divergent), usually antagonist is in some kind of government position/position of power.  
  • Due to environmental reasons, sometimes society totally regresses (due to apocalypse) into anarchy, etc



  • During beginning half of 20th century, time of huge tech advancements (first cars, first rockets, first computers)
    • World view of advancement >> sci fi reflects, future projects even greater progress.  Androids, flying cars, spaceships, teleporters, etc
  • After 80s, tech stagnate a little bit (not including internet and cell phone, those stagnate in late 2000s)
  • By 2010s, we realize how much we fall short of early 20th century predictions- no flying cars, no holograms, no leaving orbit since the 60s, etc etc.  
    • Stagnation projected onto future w sci-fi, not much improvement
    • Stagnation also in part due to environmental/societal setbacks- tech suffers if the society has no organization or if everyone is fighting for their lives on a day to day basis
  • Some of the stagnation in stories is due to environmental conditions or governement controls


Conclusion here!!!!

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