Anyone who has seen the classic sci-fi noirish film, Blade Runner, is well aware that the film takes place in a then-futuristic Los Angeles on November 2019. Mind you Blade Runner was released in 1982, so a date like 2019 seemed so far off to anyone around back then. Well, here we are at another date that was extrapolated upon in a past sci-fi work, and obviously many of the things projected for this date in Blade Runner have happened. In many instances we should all breathe a sigh of belief that some predictions for this date have not come true.
Then again, some predictions that have yet to occur continue to capture our imaginations. The brightest examples are, of course, the flying cars that filled the rainy L.A. skies throughout the film. Only Back to the Future, Part II featured an equally impressive array and depiction of flying vehicles. There are real-life flying cars, but they are not commonplace nor as attractive as the spinners that Rick Decard flew in. Both the spinners and actual flying cars operate on the same propulsion system used by vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. Although flying cars aren’t everywhere and there are many logistical and economic headaches that keep them from becoming commonplace like in Blade Runner (at least for the near future), we are closer and closer to seeing our skies filled with them. Some companies are anticipating such a scenario and are preparing for it. In Miami, the first flying car skyport is nearing completion at the 60-story Paramount Miami World Center, which will have a sky deck on its roof to accommodate flying vehicles. If successful, expect more high rises and more cities to build their own skyports.
Another thing depicted in Blade Runner that have not come to fruition was the advanced genetic engineering as shown with the film’s anti-heroes, the replicants. Artificially grown by the Tyrell Corporation, these replicants were created to serve as slave labor and were physically enhanced while hampered with very short life spans. Thankfully we are nowhere near this level of advancement so we do not have to grapple with the ethics of creating a sapient race of slaves. With the way the replicants were treated in Blade Runner and its sequel Blade Runner 2049, it would not be surprising when the clonal slaves mount a violent revolt against the society that despised them.
The replicants were used primarily in off-world colonies, which were never shown. Needless to say, we aren’t anywhere near having space colonies. This will change hopefully by the next decade or so when humanity ventures out to Mars and beyond. Until then, we have to take replicant Roy Batty at his word when he described the “Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion” and “c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhaueser Gate”during his famous poignant speech.