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TelePresence Almost Done...

But before it's finished:

I've got a Los Angeles teenager in the late 21st century who is fond of old fantasy and science fiction films. I need a list of five to ten films that are likely to be his favorites.

Any suggestions?

Also, to make this SFnal, anyone want to give me a title or two for a SF film from the 2020's or 2030's? :-) If I use yours, I'll Tuckerize you.


It's hard to answer without knowing more about this teenager and his culture.

Think of the novels from previous generations that we would classify as "science fiction". Utopian novels, like Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, were extremely popular in the late 19th century, but that whole subgenre pretty much died after WW1. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were a number of anti-feminist dystopian novels (i.e., novels based on the idea that if this Women's Lib thing goes on, society will become grotesquely corrupt) like Edmund Cooper's Five to Twelve and John Boyd's Sex and the High Command, which look ridiculous today.

What films (or novels or songs or whatever) from today will be popular in 2090? The ones that resonate with the things that people worry about, or look forward to, in 2090. Most of us have pretty much given up on the idea that if only society conformed to a particular model then all of our problems would be solved, so Looking Backward is no longer popular. We are no longer concerned that the birth-control pill will make men obsolete, so Five in Twelve is out of print. What will the cultural anxieties of 2090 be?

God willing, fifty years from now, some editor is going to try to decide which of your early works belongs in The Best of Michael A. Burstein, Volume I: The Early Years. If your character's list of favorite movies is too transparently a list of things that are popular today, then "TeleAbsence" won't make the cut for that anthology.
I think asking what will resonate with popular culture in 2090 is the wrong question. Almost by definition, popular culture in 2090 will be focused on stuff being made in 2090, which probably won't even be "movies" as we know them. A kid fascinated by ancient f&sf media in that world is in the same sort of position as a kid today who prefers Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott to modern works -- there must be something he gets out of them that's *not* in the contemporary culture. In the case of a fan of "Treasure Island", that might be a romantic sense of adventure. I don't know enough about Michael's character to guess what that might be in his case.

But of course, the work I personally most want to done right for the screen, now that we miraculously have _The Lord of the Rings_, is _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_.
This is why I want at least half the films to be made up titles, if I can get away with it. And I'd rather pick a list of old films and made-up ones, rather than ones from today.

Your comment also makes me worry about using the title "TelePresence," since you seem to have typed "TeleAbsence" by accident. Will others make that mistake? He wondered.
That's what I get for not clicking "Preview" first....just blame my lack of sleep.

December 2016

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