On the 16th of December, the future will break into our post-apocalyptically grim capital bearing a familiar emblem of Kinky Party. And the celebration shall commence! A celebration of freedom in the era of hi-tech love. The theme of the night is “Future Is Coming”.
While impatiently picking our outfits for the upcoming party, we decided to remember a few known views of Humanity of the Future. How do writers, screenwriters and scientists of past and present view our future selves?
People as a sapient virus as seen by Paul di Filippo
After a devastating war with aliens, the entire Earth’s biosphere was on the brink of destruction and in order to adapt humanity to the new reality, bioengineers “improve” people adjusting their behavior to mimic that of a virus.
Here is what these creatures looked like, according to the author:
“6-Licorice was a fully mature adult neohuman, a fine exemplar of his species in the only form in which it existed now. He stood four feet tall, with limbs rather gracile than muscular. He was completely hairless. His eyes were big, the pupils big within them. His genitals were hidden in a pouch of skin. There was a thick crease or fold of flesh across his otherwise flat stomach.”
Big-eyed planet colonizers visualized by Nickolay Lamm
Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm, together with another scientist, Dr. Alan Kwan of Washington University, who holds a PhD in computational genomics, have created an depiction of what we may look like in the future. According to Kwan’s scenario, one of the biggest changes in the way humans will look will be in the size of the head and forehead – they will increase in size to accommodate a larger brain. He is sure that genetic engineering will become the norm in 60,000 years and the “the fate of the human face will be increasingly determined by human tastes,” the face itself will reflect “total mastery over human morphological genetics.” The scientist believes that people’s eyes will become larger due to human efforts to colonize other planets located further away from the Sun with much dimmer lighting. Similarly, the skin will become darker and more pigmented o decrease harmful effects of UV rays outside of the Earth’s protective ozone layer. People will have larger and wider nostrils to facilitate breathing in alien environments and denser hair to decrease heat loss of a larger cranium.
Karel Čapek’s Androids
Back in 1920 in a sci-fi play “R.U.R.”, Čapek described universal robots, composed of artificially grown tissue and organs that look like people but are made of other materials. They are able to think independently, yet are apparently always happy to serve humanity.
Here are a few quotes from the play which give a representation of how robots looked in the writer’s mind:
“…the Robots are dressed like people. Their movements and speech are laconic. Their faces are expressionless and their eyes fixed. In the play proper they are wearing linen shirts tightened at their waists with belts and have brass number on their chests.”
“…we only make Robots of normal size and of very high class human finish…”
“…She even has the characteristic soft hair of a blonde, if you please. Only the eyes are a trifle — But on the other hand, what hair!…”
Stan Lee’s Mutants
When in 1963 Stan Lee and Jack Kirby offered a comic about mutants to Marvel Comics, authors were not allowed to use that term due to unpleasant offensive connotations. Then it was replaced with “X-Men” in honor of the gene responsible for the mutations. Today, fortunately, not so much thanks to the military technology but more to overall progress and the development of biotechnology and possibilities of integration of humans with computers, the issue of mutants is becoming relevant once more.
Here are a few varieties of post-humans in the vision of the cult author and screenwriter.
The Thing possesses a superhumanly invulnerable rocklike body of the orange color.
The Hulk is a huge and extremely strong character whose green skin is insusceptible to any damage, temperature or pressure changes, and whose organism is completely impervious to any viruses, diseases, poisons or toxins.
Iron Man has a powered suit of armor that gives him superhuman strength and physical protection along with jet-powered boots and gloves that allow him to fly and a uni-beam in the center of his chest capable of generating various kinds of energy.
Gene Roddenberry’s Vulcans
The humanoid civilization from the sci-fi series Star Trek, famous for their developed logic and rejection of emotions is similar to the human race in appearance. The main visible difference from people is pointy ears (similar to elven ears) and arched and upswept eyebrows. The mostly wear covering ceremonial clothing and their similar haircuts which became one of the staples of the fictional race.