Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sam Raimi's World War 3: Thoughts on the Source Material

I was surprised by the recent news that Sam Raimi will be directing a movie titled World War 3, based on George Friedman's book The Next 100 Years.

This was all the more so because I have followed Friedman's work for a very long time, even reviewing his last two books--The Next Decade, and of course, The Next 100 Years.

I have recently reposted my review of Friedman's book from back when I wrote it in 2009 (you can find it here). You can also check my revisitation of Friedman's predictions back in July (here).

Personally I have to admit to being underwhelmed by the work. Friedman's forecast is of obvious interest precisely because it is a detailed book-length forecast full of surprising predictions. However, as I noted in my reviews of his work, it also seemed to me to be based on some faulty assumptions.

By and large they are a grab-bag of biases common among strategic thinkers of a particular political persuasion.

In Friedman's vision the world economy will go on chugging along much as it has with neoliberalism somehow not a barrier to the development of "emerging markets," Russia and China will simply fail, Europe is always decadent or hostile or both, and neither global warming nor energy scarcities will exist as a meaningful factor for decades to come.

Oh, and somehow large-scale great power can be counted on not to escalate to the nuclear level.

In some cases, he even seems to be trying to salvage bad predictions from earlier, such as that communicated by the title of his 1991 The Coming War With Japan.

Indeed, after writing my review I found myself writing my own vision of the next hundred years (also reposted here), while today some of his newer guesses already seem as badly dated as that one. (Already in The Next Decade he was backing away slightly from his optimism about fossil fuels.)

At a time when events are unfolding along a far less conventional path than Friedman imagines, and perhaps of more immediate concern international, great power war is seeming an ever more plausible and frightening possibility, the idea of making this very questionable conception of the future a movie seems to me . . . well, very questionable.

The Cult of Ian Fleming
Sam Raimi's World War 3 and the History of Science Fiction
Sam Raimi's World War 3: Thoughts on the Source Material
The Next 100 Years: Another View
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman
Reviewing George Friedman's Predictions

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