2012 has been an incredible year for futuristic developments, from the Olympics' Blade Runner to chimp enhancement. So what might the coming year hold? With another year upon us, we look at what science fiction books, television, comics, and movies say will happen in year 2013.
Judging from this list, the year 2013 sounds rather dismal. Here's to a new year that's happier than what we've cooked up in fiction:
China will enter a "Golden Age of Ascendancy" (The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung). This 2009 novel imagined that Western nations would undergo a stagnation during a new economic crisis in 2011, but China would enjoy a period of great economic prosperity. By 2013, the Chinese population would be comfortable and enjoying an inexplicable contentment. Of course, this contentment and prosperity doesn't come out of nowhere, and it's all somehow linked to the events of February 2011, a month few in Beijing can remember.
A Second Great Depression will trigger a massive crime wave in New York City (Rivers of Gold by Adam Dunn). Dunn's 2010 novel also imagines an economically depressed near future for the United States, with the recession snowballing into the Second Great Depression. In New York, the results are devastating; 2013 sees the city's great restaurants, hotels, and theaters closed, a shantytown erected in Central Park, and many of the city's police officers laid off, leading to a massive spike in crime.
A revolutionary will steal the US's super-weapon (Escape from LA). In the sequel to Escape from New York, a member of Peru's Shining Path uses the US President's daughter to the remote to a super weapon capable of destroying the world's electronics. Then again, in this version of 2013, an earthquake has turned a big chunk of Southern California into an island.
A nuclear attack will threaten England (Spooks: Code 9). This series starts after a nuclear attack on the 2012 Olympic Games lays waste to London, forcing the government to move to Manchester. On the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, another nuclear bomb threatens the nation, sending the new young recruits of MI5 scrambling to keep it from detonating.
A team of cyborgs will respond to terrorist bombings (009 RE:CYBORG). Terrorism is also a major theme of this anime film, but London, Moscow, Berlin, and New York are all rocked by a series of simultaneous bombings. This forces the disbanded Cyborg 00 team to get the gang back together to investigate the cause and motive behind the attack.
The US President will be mutated in a biological attack (Resident Evil 6). Yes, terrorism again. The President of the United States decides to reveal the truth about the destruction of Raccoon City to the world, hoping it will put a halt to a recent rash of bioterrorist attacks. But it's all for naught when the venue where he's giving his speech is itself subject to an attack. The President becomes infect with the C-virus and quickly goes zombie.
An epidemic will depopulate the planet (The Scarlet Plague by Jack London). Writing in the year 1912, London imagined 2013 as the year when a global pandemic called the Red Death would strike humanity. Most of those infected died within an hour of showing symptoms, and billions fell, leaving the world a much emptier place.
Americans will be living in a post-apocalyptic civilization (The Postman). The world has already gone to pot by 2013 in the film version of David Brin's novel. But 2013 is the year that a survivor claims to be a postal worker for a restored American government. Hopefully, the real 2013 will bring us better movies.
The first children in the next phase of human development will be born (Babylon Babies by Maurice Dantec). Dantec's novel (which was adapted into the Vin Diesel vehicle Babylon A.D.) envisions a 2013 filled with New Age cyborgs and political turmoil. It also sees the birth of hyper-intelligent and hyperconscious twins who, it is predicted, will eventually supplant Homo sapiens.
The Doctor will thwart an invasion of androids in a massive entertainment complex (Doctor Who: Autonomy). This novel sees the return of the creepy, mannequin-like Autons, who this time invade Hyperville, a massive complex where visitors can shop or enjoy the wonders of one of several themed entertainment zones. Fortunately, the 10th Doctor is on the case, keeping the world safe for consumers.
Parasites will plague one of the world's most perfect cities (No.6). After a war devastates most of the world, humanity is confined to six city-states. City No.6 is supposed to be an ideal city, but its facade of perfection begins to crumble in 2013, when citizens turn up dead, their bodies strangely aged by parasitic wasps.
Sentinels will run the United States (X-Men, "Days of Future Past"). After the X-Men fail to prevent the assassination of Senator Kelly in 1981, the United States turns into an anti-mutant dystopia. Mutants live in concentration camps, carriers of the mutant gene are forbidden from having male children, and Sentinels run everything. After Kitty Pryde's 2013 consciousness is sent back into her 1981 body, she manages to thwart Kelly's assassination, although her 2013 still exists as an alternate future.
Russia will ship violent convicts to a remote island in the Arctic (Terra Nova (Novaya Zemlya)). In this 2008 Russian film (not the TV series of the same name), capital punishment has been abolished, but the prisons are bursting at the seams. So in 2013, the government tries a new experiment: shipping convicts to the frozen island Novaya Zemlya. The prisoners are told they are there to start colony, but it quickly turns into a brutal battle for survival.
The United States will have several new states (Milwaukee the Beautiful by Dakota James). In 2013, the U.S. has more than 50 states, but rather than Puerto Rico or Guam, it's Buffalo, Duluth, St. Petersburg, and other pieces of existing US states that have joined the club. By that year, the greenhouse effect has also caused massive droughts and famine in Central America, South America, and Mexico, driving millions to seek haven in the US. But some states—like the new great state of Milwaukee—have especially strict immigration laws.
One in five Americans will be hooked on illegal drugs (A Scanner Darkly). Philip K. Dick's original novel was set in 1994, but Richard Linklater's film version bumped the setting up to 2013. Twenty percent of the population is hooked on the addictive Substance D, and the government uses high-tech surveillance and undercover agents to fight their losing war on drugs.
Neuroscientists will develop an accurate test for sociopathy in men (A Philosophical Investigation by Philip Kerr). In the 2013 of Kerr's novel, a neuroscientist has discovered that an abnormality in men's brains is an incredibly reliable indicator of violent sociopathy. In the UK, the nature of criminal punishment has changed by this year, with punitive comas replacing imprisonment and capital punishment.
The retail chain Tesco will invade Denmark (Time Trumpet). One of the sillier 2013 events comes from the comedic mockumentary from the future miniseries. One Tesco has fully saturated Britain, they will set their sights on Denmark. When the Danes refuse, the retailer will bring out the War of the Worlds-style Tesco walkers.
The Design Aesthetic Wars will break out (Legion of Super-Heroes). We don't know much about this 2013 conflict, but according to Cosmic Boy, it will result in bar codes being outlawed, at least the ones on comic book covers.