I love science fiction, but I've noticed the genre often misses some obvious elements of the future. The authors write about space ships, ray guns, teleportation and aliens, but they seem to blow it when it comes to three common themes: tailoring, trash and tattoos.
Let's start with tailoring. As a kid, I was a voracious reader of Superman comic books. Superman often traveled to the future and encountered entire civilizations wearing the exact same outfit - billions of people wearing identical pants, tunics, capes, socks and rubber soled shoes. This isn't at all realistic. If I've learned anything from living in the South, it's that people are going to tailor their clothes to their own tastes. Someone's going to cut off an old space suit at the knees to make short pants. Someone else is going to glue rhinestones or sequins on a cape. Someone else is going to screen-print, "Martians Rule!" on tie-dyed shirts and sell them by the spaceship load. The future is not going to be uniform, and no one should expect the uniforms we wear to be either.
Now, let's talk trash. Science fiction doesn't understand trash collection. It's always the same story. There's only one big trash pit, usually right underneath the bad guy's lair, and it's where you throw the hero when you catch him sneaking past security. And there's always a monster living in the trash pit. Well, just how did the trash get in the pit with the monster? You need waste cans and recycle bins and trash bags and those sticks that you poke the trash with. You need guys - in cut-off space pants and tie-dyed shirts - riding on a big trash truck, collecting all the junk. Does anyone think the future is going to clean up after itself? I'm surprised the Intergalactic Sanitation Union hasn't been all over this one.
Finally, where are all the future's tattoos? At the rate our society is going, everyone's going to be covered in tattoos. Maybe I just haven't looked that closely, but I don't see a lot of tattoos in the space movies I watch. Will future scientists invent a tattoo eraser? That would be cool. Or, maybe some of those strange alien races we see are actually just French guys covered with tattoos. That would explain so much, come to think of it.
David McCoy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org