"The future is not what it used to be..."
- Laura Riding & Robert Graves
In 1980, Moon Base personnel will automatically know who let one go.
The problem with science fiction is that at some point the projected future becomes the present. If I were to look back at the predictions made within my lifetime, I should be driving a flying car, speaking to people via my wrist-phone (okay we have those, I admit) and I would not be sat here typing on a laptop (it was predicted that computers would never be small enough to fit into the average home). When I was younger I thought that my idea that everyone could be talking to others via their own personal 'walkie-talky' was really cool... now I curse my mobile phone and the accessibility to me that it sometimes brings to others. Still waiting on the flying car here though...
For those of us who are into watching 'old stuff' though, seeing what came to pass and what did not, is a degree of the entertainment value itself. Nevertheless at some point the future catches up with the subject and they end up looking at best 'quaint' in their view of the future. An interesting phenomenon has also arisen though, that of projecting what the future would have looked like if things had turned out as thought. The idea of 'retro-future' - i.e. how people in the past saw the future has been used in several formats.
The post-apocalyptic game series 'Fallout' uses a vision of the future from the point of view of Americans in the early part of the Cold War, circa 1948, complete with 'Red Scare' propaganda and a view that nuclear weapons would virtually destroy the Earth. What survives is built on the ruins of the old and is a mish-mash of present day technology, spliced with 50's visions of the future. Although I do not like the term, 'Atompunk' has been coined to cover this vision of the atomic-powered future that was sincerely believed in back then.
Then-contemporary visions of the future featured many of the same facets, which bled over into film and television, particularly in the 1950s, which forms the focus of the 'Mars Attacks!' section of this blog and the Mantic game itself. Into the Sixties and Seventies, things slowed down somewhat and rather than the Cold War fear of hordes of invading aliens, things became more subtle and a more human-centric view developed.
As a kid I was an avid viewer of Sci-Fi TV and movies. It was apparently compulsory to be a Dr Who fan back then, but while I loyally tuned-in each Saturday, it was not my favourite show in the genre. That was reserved for three shows in the main; 'Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea', 'Captain Scarlet' and 'U.F.O.', with 'Thunderbirds', 'The Invaders' and 'Stingray', as runners-up. While each show occupied its own vision of the future, there were two main strands which categorised them, one strand was set in the near future (20th Century), while the other was set in near-ish future (21st Century).
Predictably perhaps, the '21st Century' shows were the most ambitious and were each set in a world were there was a 'World Government' of sorts. Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray, all share a similar time frame of circa 2060-70, although with substantially different enemies. Captain Scarlet faced the machinations of an incorporeal alien intelligence who could 'possess' humans and bend them to their will. Stingray featured an aquatic race of villains, discovered through oceanic exploration. Thunderbirds was somewhat more imaginative and faced both examples of technology gone wrong and a Dr No-style villain, 'The Hood'.
The 'Near Future' shows were certainly the easiest to relate to, as they largely featured worlds which were little different to ours and the advanced technology was not that advanced on reflection. 'Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea' (Made: 1964-68, Set: 1970s to 1980s), 'The Invaders' (Made: 1967-68, Set: 1967-68) and U.F.O. (Made: 1970-72, Set:1980), all shared a world with the existing political divisions of their day (Cold War). While VTTBOTS was largely a series of unconnected episodes, a recurring theme was the existence of a Soviet-like entity called 'The Peoples Republic'. The other two shows featured attempts by aliens to take over the Earth, but in different ways.
The Invaders featured an alien infiltration, which resulted in 'copies' of people being made (a bit like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, although with a machine instead of pods). This has largely gone undetected, except for the hero, who happened to see a flying saucer land. The hero then attempts to alert the authorities, facing disbelief, or an actual alien or too on the way. Eventually he recruits one or two allies during the series to assist him, but each episode features a circular plot design, which has him back at square one.
U.F.O. is somewhat different, but could conceivably be the same story somewhat later in time (although the aliens are very different). In U.F.O. the aliens are from a dying world and are visiting Earth to harvest humans for their organs, to prolong their lives on their own planet. A secret army has been formed to fight them, complete with space defence systems, a base on the moon, complete with space fighters and an Earth-based element with its own armoured vehicles and a submarine with its own jet aircraft.
|There were drawbacks to being an alien in U.F.O., your space suit was bright red and the fluid which allowed you to take long space flights turned your skin green. Pretty hard to pass yourself off as human, all things considered.|
Where the two stories converge, is that from a civilian's perspective there are officially no aliens, nor a force created to fight them. In essence then you could combine the two plots into the same one, except that U.F.O.'s aliens are very obviously aliens, thanks to the means they use to survive the extended journeys here. However they were known to use collaborators from time to time, so the aliens of the Invaders could be replaced with human quislings. Those points aside however, you could run a series of games from either perspective.
Whichever option you go for though, the series themselves provide ample fodder for game scenarios, which can be adapted to suit how 'your world' operates. Again I favour 7TV for these type of games, but pretty much any adventure style rules would suit the purpose. Most adventure-style rule sets offer the use of 'gadgets', which are largely all you need to include above and beyond your normal weapons for these style of games.