Future Science Fiction heavily contemplates unintended consequences. As an attorney, I think a lot about this. One of the things I imagine in my forthcoming novel, ReINCEPTION, is the unintended consequences of the government controlling reproductive rights. Today in the US, we are talking about our government’s right to determine whether women can terminate pregnancy. In ReINCEPTION, in response to limited resources and overpopulation, the government is limiting the number of children people can have. Conceptually, these are very different types of reproductive decisions. However, from a legal perspective, once we allow the government to control our reproductive decisions, there is not much difference between prohibiting the termination of pregnancy and prohibiting pregnancy in the first place.
There are many excellent examples in print and media of fiction and non-fiction that contemplates unintended consequences. Here are a few excellent examples:
- 1984, in which “Big Brother” and the “Thought Police” use surveillance and manipulation to maintain power.
- Altered Carbon: Wherein human consciousness can be downloaded and installed in other bodies.
- Black Mirror: In this TV series, the unintended consequences of current technology play out in the near future.
- Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s timeless horror novel about a scientist’s bioengineering experiment gone awry where humans become more monstrous than actual monsters.
- Gattaca: Genetics and reproductive technologies are used to determine employment opportunities (the film adaption of this novel was also excellent!).
- Ready Player One: In the near future, humans use virtual reality software to escape the dystopia of the real world. (Also features epic 80s references!)
- WALL-E: A wonderful film about a little robot whose trying to save the planet after pollution destroys the earth and humans retreat to space. Also has a killer soundtrack!
- Of course, no list about unintended consequences and reproductive rights would be complete without Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which images a near future where women no longer have control over their own bodies.
What are some of your favorite books or movies about unintended consequences?
What unintended consequences do you anticipate and most fear?