Science fiction has always built our culture powerful frameworks for thinking about the future. Computer sensors, “electronic paper,” digital newspapers, biological cloning, interactive television, robots, remote operation, and even the Walkman each appeared in fiction before they breached our physical reality. Has there been any major technological advancement that wasn’t dreamt up first in man’s imagination? Simon Lake — American mechanical engineer, naval architect, and perhaps the most important mind behind the development of the submarine — said of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, “Jules Verne was in a sense the director-general of my life.” This was a man who created space travel in the pages of fiction decades before Sputnik, while Arthur C. Clarke imagined satellite communication into existence in 1945, a full 12 years before the Russians fired the first shots of the Space Race. Who invented the cell phone, Martin Cooper or Gene Roddenberry? Who invented the earliest iteration of the computer, Charles Babbage or Jonathan Swift? And the list goes on. Either art is imitating life, or science fiction writers have been pointing to the future for over a century.
So what the hell are we supposed to make of the Hunger Games?