Flash forward was a short-lived American TV series that imagined you could see a projection of your life on a specific day in the future. What will we be doing in ten years’ time? Who will be governing us? Will we be living in a different country? After a spectacular start, the series quickly lost viewers and was cancelled after the first season. As a result, the fate of the individual characters remained unknown. If in 2008 we had been given an opportunity to flash forward, how would we have imagined energy to be in September 2018?
The history of time travel is little more than 150 years old. We have to look to Jules Verne and H.G. Wells at the end of the 1800s for the first accounts of fourth dimension travelers. Their vision of the future is dystopian, negative and dangerous. For the young Verne, with his Paris in the Twentieth Century, tomorrow’s world (which is now yesterday’s world) would have been controlled by communication and a technocracy without feelings. The fate of the protagonist, a poet, was inevitably tragic. Written in 1863, the book was so pessimistic that, to avoid harming the young writer’s positive image, the publisher never published the text, which was later rediscovered in a cellar and published in 1994, when the domination of communications and the crisis of poetry seemed a less tragic prospect. Paradoxically, the first to travel through time was Verne’s manuscript itself. Because of this publication delay, rather than being the progenitor of time travel novelists, Verne became one of the last imitators of the genre. The official title goes to Herbert George Wells, a modern turn-of-the-century man and a convinced supporter of socialism and free love, who was also fascinated by bicycles (“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I do not despair for the future of the human race.”) In his 1895 book The Time Machine, Wells portrayed a world devastated by monstrous beings and, in the final journey through time, almost lifeless. From Zamjatin’s We to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell’s 1984, the future is characterized by a deadly mix of illiberal dictatorships, domination by a negative technology and annihilation of individualism and creativity. In the 1970s, cinema added a further bitter ingredient to these pessimistic themes, one unknown to writers in the past. With Interceptor, Waterworld or The Day After Tomorrow to mention a few, the world of the future is highly polluted and close to if not beyond environmental catastrophe.