With the unemployment rate hovering at ten percent and the stock market melting down, it's a scary time to think about the future. Especially if you're unemployed yourself, or worried about losing your job. But science fiction has the answer!
We've scoured science fiction stories to find some strategies that could help you to survive being unemployed for a long time. And here's what we've come up with!
Top image: Days of Future Past by Andreas Stavrinides
Start Your Own Business
In the Star Wars universe, the galactic economy is so troubled it's hard to find someone who isn't self-employed, causing the universe rife with bounty hunters, drug dealers, smugglers and moisture
farmers. On his own television series, Angel moves to Los Angeles and starts a private detective company, and on Firefly, a motley crew left destitute from war (joining the army is almost always a bad idea in SF) makes money where they can from stealing, smuggling, taxiing and prostitution. On yet another Joss Whedon series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Giles buys a magic shop after spending a year without a job. He then goes on to hire Anya, an out-of-work vengeance demon.
Alternatively, you could start your own band as did Bill & Ted, who went on to create a utopia.
Scavenge and Hoard
Scavenging is a time-tested method for surviving tough economic times, as seen in The Hunger Games, Mad Max, A Boy and His Dog and Damnation Alley. If nothing else, you'll probably get a cool-looking car. On the TV series Farscape, the crew of fugitives aboard the Moya are unable to get respectable jobs but survive by stocking up on inexpensive and tasteless "food cubes".
See also Falling Skies, Jericho and Lost.
In Philip K. Dick's Galactic Pot-Healer, Joe Fernwright, a "pot healer" out of work after ceramic pottery has been replaced with plastics, spends most of his time sharing linguistic puzzles on the "worldwide telephone network" until a god-like alien named Glimmung recruits him to raise an ancient sunken cathedral. Something similar happens to Eli Wallace in Stargate Universe, when he's selected by the Icarus project after solving an ancient math problem encoded in a video game. And The Last Starfighter has a similar premise.
Meet the Right People
Out of work and orphaned in the Great Depression, Ted Grant saves heavyweight boxing champ "Socker" Smith from a mugging, and was awarded with an apprenticeship, in turn becoming a heavyweight champion himself. After Socker is murdered with a poison-tipped boxing glove, Grant, inspired by a Green Lantern comic book, uses his boxing skills to fight crime as the superhero Wildcat.
In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent (at home and in his pajamas, apparently on a work day) is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect moments before the Earth's destruction at the hands of the Vogons. He later (much later) raises money by selling his DNA to start a sandwich shop.
Become Someone Else
In Being John Malkovich, an unemployed puppeteer finds a doorway into the head of journeyman character actor John Malkovich, allowing him to become rich and successful.
In an episode of the 1980's revival of The Twilight Zone, "Streets of Shadow", a violent incident causes a man living in a homeless shelter to switch bodies with the affluent man living in the home he had broken into. He then makes a sizable donation to the shelter and gives himself a job as director.
Rise up and revolt
In They Live, Roddy Piper's character, a drifter known only as "Nada", foments revolution after discovering the moneyed ruling class is in fact a species of oppressive aliens. Likewise, the unemployed human laborers in 2001's Metropolis stage a revolt after being replaced by robot workers, but are easily subdued and later, nuked. Things don't work out so well for Nada, either. On the flip side, it is implied that their efforts lead to society rebuilding itself on a more level playing field.
It's strongly suggested Back to the Future's "Doc" Emmet Brown deliberately burned down his house to collect the insurance money. He then moved into his garage after selling his estate to developers and lived off the proceeds.
Hit the Road
After his legendary accident, Bruce/David Banner becomes a professional drifter, getting work wherever he can from those he helps along the way. Izuna: The Unemployed Ninja takes a similar tack.
Move in with Family
This may backfire however, as it did in 1959's 4D Man, when Robert Lansing's brother moved in with him after burning down a science lab. Lee Meriwether leaves Lansing for his brother, causing him to expose himself to an experimental element called "Cargonite" and transforming him into a 4D state.
Become a Superhero
There's a longstanding tradition of unemployed superheroes, such as Grant Morrison's Captain Clyde, The Tick, Ultraman Leo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spider-Man, two out of three V.R. Troopers, The Maxx and of course, Unemployed Man.