2020 in science fiction: a scene from the 1965 film Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet

The Year 2020 in Science Fiction

Here’s how science fiction novels and movies imagined the year 2020. Science fiction vs reality: what actually happened?

Science fiction novels and movies have long envisioned the 2000s with advanced technologies, space exploration, and societal changes. They painted a future of remarkable progress and challenges, from AI dominance to interplanetary travel.

In reality, while we’ve seen significant technological advancements and strides in space missions, many of the dramatic predictions, like sentient robots or colonies on Mars, remain within the realm of fiction. The actual 2020 was more about grappling with a global pandemic, which few sci-fi narratives anticipated, highlighting the unpredictability of our real-world trajectory.

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet [1965 American Science Fiction Film]

“Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet” is a 1965 American science fiction film that presents an imagined 2020, where space exploration has reached the point of sending crewed missions to Venus (the moon was already colonized). The story unfolds as a group of astronauts embark on a daring journey to this enigmatic planet, only to discover a world teeming with prehistoric life and landscapes.

As they navigate through the dangers of this alien world, including encounters with dinosaurs and other ancient creatures, the film explores themes of discovery, the unknown, and humankind’s quest for knowledge beyond Earth.

Despite its speculative prediction of the year 2020’s technological advancements in space travel, the film captures the era’s fascination with space exploration and the possibilities it holds for encountering other forms of life and worlds. It is a reflection of the optimistic space age of the 1960s, offering a glimpse into the era’s imagination and expectations for the future.

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet is an adaptation of the 1962 Soviet science fiction movie Planeta Bur (Planet of Storms), scripted by the Soviet science fiction writer Aleksandr Kazantsev (2 September 1906 – 13 September 2002) from his novel and directed by Pavel Klushantsev (1910-1999).

oyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) – Theatrical Trailer

Software [1982 Cyberpunk Science Fiction Novel]

“Software,” a novel by Rudy Rucker published in 1982, is set against the backdrop of the year 2020, forecasting a future where advanced robotics and artificial intelligence have given rise to sentient robots known as “boppers.” The story centers around Cobb Anderson, a retired computer scientist credited with the boppers’ creation, who finds himself entangled in the escalating conflict between these autonomous robots and humans, who see them as a menace.

As Anderson navigates a world where the distinctions between human and machine blur, the novel explores deep themes of consciousness, identity, and the essence of humanity. “Software” stands out for its visionary take on the evolution of AI and its societal impacts, kicking off Rucker’s critically acclaimed “Ware” tetralogy with a blend of science fiction and philosophical inquiry.

“Software” won the first Philip K. Dick Award in 1983.

Red Mars [1992 Science Fiction Novel]

In the 1992 science fiction novel “Red Mars” written by Kim Stanley Robinson (born March 23, 1952), the first human, an American astronaut named “John Boone” walks on Mars in 2020.

After returning to Earth, Boone becomes a public hero and uses his considerable influence to lobby for a second mission, this time one of colonization. Red Mars starts in 2026 and tells this colonization story, with the first colonial voyage to Mars aboard the large interplanetary spacecraft named Ares. It carries the first hundred Martian colonists.

Red Mars is the first book of Robinson’s Mars trilogy (others being “Green Mars”, published in 1993, and “Blue Mars”, published in 1996).

Mission to Mars [2000 Science Fiction Movie]

In the 2000 science fiction movie “Mission to Mars” directed by Brian De Palma and written by Jim Thomas, John Thomas, and Graham Yost, 2020 is the year that the first crewed Mars exploration mission, the Mars I.

The story follows a rescue mission to Mars after the first manned mission to the planet encounters a catastrophic disaster. The crew, led by Commander Woody Blake, faces numerous challenges as they uncover a monumental discovery about the origin of life on Earth.

With its blend of suspense, drama, and spectacular visual effects, the film delves into themes of exploration, survival, and the quest for knowledge. Despite mixed reviews from critics, “Mission to Mars” captivates with its intriguing plot and speculative glimpse into humanity’s future in space exploration.

The cast includes many Hollywood stars like Gary Sinise, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O’Connell, Kim Delaney, and Tim Robbins.

Mission To Mars (2000) – Trailer

Air [2005 Science Fiction Novel]

In the 2005 novel “Air” (also known as Air: Or, Have Not Ha) by the Canadian science fiction writer Geoff Ryman (born 1951), in 2020, there is a new information technology called “Air”. It is an information exchange that occurs in every person’s brain and is intended to connect the world.

The narrative focuses on Chung Mae, a fashion-conscious woman who accidentally becomes the village’s de facto link to the new technology after a test of Air goes disastrously wrong, leaving her mind permanently altered. As Mae grapples with her new abilities and the challenges they bring, she becomes a pivotal figure in her community’s struggle to adapt to the sweeping changes that Air represents.

Pacific Rim [2013 Science-Fiction Action Movie]

“Pacific Rim,” directed by Guillermo del Toro and released in 2013, is a visually stunning science fiction action film that merges the thrill of giant robots with the terror of colossal monsters.

Set in 2020 where Earth is at war with massive sea creatures known as Kaiju, humanity fights back by constructing gigantic robots called Jaegers, piloted by duos who share a mental link. The story centers around a washed-up pilot, Raleigh Becket, and an inexperienced trainee, Mako Mori, who team up to pilot a legendary but outdated Jaeger in a desperate bid to save humanity from the brink of extinction.

“Pacific Rim” is celebrated for its imaginative concept, special effects, and action-packed sequences, offering a fresh take on the monster and mecha genres with its heartfelt story of resilience and teamwork.

Pacific Rim (2013) – Official Main Trailer

Edge of Tomorrow [2014 Science Fiction Action Movie]

“Edge of Tomorrow”, the 2014 American science fiction action film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, directed by Doug Liman, tells the story of an alien race invading the Earth. It is a gripping tale of alien invasion and time-loop warfare.

In 2015, aliens called “Mimics” arrived in Germany carried by an asteroid. They are unbeatable by any military unit in the world. By 2020, they will invade most of Europe.

Cruise plays Major William Cage, an officer with no combat experience who is thrust into a deadly confrontation with an alien race known as the Mimics. After being killed in battle, Cage finds himself inexplicably caught in a time loop, reliving the same brutal fight and his death over and over.

A global military alliance named the United Defense Force (UDF) established to combat the alien threat finally achieves a victory over the Mimics at Verdun using newly developed mech-suits (powered exoskeletons).

With each iteration, he becomes more skilled and teams up with Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Blunt), a renowned warrior, to exploit his unique situation. Together, they devise a plan to defeat the invaders.

Edge of Tomorrow – Official Main Trailer. The epic action of “Edge of Tomorrow” unfolds in the near future (2020) in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world.


M. Özgür Nevres


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