The Slice

Back to the future

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There isn't a fan club or an association of devotees.

At least not that I know about.

But for some longtime TV watchers, there are few program themes quite so beguiling as old sci-fi stories that depict life in the future -- a future that, for us in 2011, was actually quite a few years ago.

Consider a terrific 1963 episode of "TheTwilight Zone" called "On Thursday We Leave for Home."

It's about a weary contingent of settlers from Earth who tried to establish a colony on a planet in a solar system with two suns.

So when did they journey to this distant world? Answer: In the far-in-the-future year of 1991.

Of course, TV has no monoply on this. Didn't one of the "Terminator" movies forecast a specific date for the end of the world that in real life has come and gone?

And, of course, there is Orwell's "1984."

The amusement value is part of the appeal of this dynamic. But perhaps there is more to it.

Any sci-fi fan can tell you that the future can be a scary place.

So any time we actually pass one of those imaginary milestones, it is further evidence that sometimes hope trumps fear.

And despite everything, we endure.




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