Posts Tagged 'Olympic Games'

William Neil Harrison isn’t a name you’d immediately recognise in the pantheon of Sci-Fi writers, but his influence does currently hold sway within Drozbot’s remit. With the 2016 Olympics in full swing, thoughts inevitably turn to representations of future games past. As such, Harrison was very much responsible for getting the (ahem) ball rolling with his 1973 short story Roller Ball Murder. This brief tale was subsequently picked up by Norman Jewison, and was turned into the still powerful 1975 movie starring James Caan.

At least three comic variations based upon this initial future sport were then spawned and sustained throughout the remainder of the 1970s. First in Action comic with Death Game 1999, and then twice in 2000 AD with Harlem Heroes (1977) bringing jet packs to the competitive endeavour, and then Mean Arena (1980). The creative drive of both Pat Mills and the lesser known Tom Tully played heavily in all three narratives.

As far as TV and film are concerned, Rollerball cast a long shadow and it was only with the proto-Hunger Games of David Peoples’ Salute of the Jugger (AKA, The Blood of Heroes, 1989) that another team-based future sport was able to hold its own. There were asides within other serialised shows of course – Pyramid in Battlestar Galactica and Parisses Square from Star Trek (wonderfully parodied in Hyperdrive; skip to 3:52) – but rarely as the central focus. Real Steel (2011) is probably the most recent and successful example of pure future sports film (that isn’t gladiatorial in nature), aside from the universally dismissed remake of Jewison’s original Rollerball directed by John McTiernan in 2002.

Literature has a much wider spread of future sports, ranging all the way from rocket racing to golf. Predictably, the superlative SF Encyclopedia has a full entry that goes beyond the Olympian theme here. As for the non fictional future of sports, Japan will take the baton for the 2020 Olympics and skateboarding will make its first official appearance. So who knows, perhaps esports is the inevitable next step.

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