Many shows and movies depicting science fiction realms of the future often include imagery that seems temporally totally out of place. Almost as if a fear of the unpredictable future causes humans to cling to the knowable past, everyday life and background elements of these potential worlds are filled with objects that are dated in even today's relatively mundane world. These blaring anachronisms provide an interesting view into humanity's reaction to the future; no matter how advanced and foreign new technologies become, the ideas of tradition and the old way remain obstinately present. The culture of civilization seems to lag behind the advance of engineering

The presence of anachronism creates a curious effect in cyberpunk and technology; in many cases, it provides an easy way for either the audience or denizens to adapt with comforting images of what they know. It can either reconcile a sense of familiarity with the ideas of the future, or force the capabilities of the present with the concepts of the past.

In many cases, this means using old fashioned tools for simple tasks for the sense of nostalgia, as is seen in the 1982 movie Bladerunner and old TV show Max Headroom. In the form of art direction, anachronism can be used to produce a sense of charm, or even beauty; temporal distance places an appreciative value on the relics of the past, such as the ancient décor of Deckard's living space or the mechanical talking head statue in Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy. Paper umbrellas, traditionally dressed monks, street-side ramen stands, and painted Geisha advertisements coat the Los Angeles of 2019 with a wistful charm in Bladerunner. Noisy typewriters and Edison Carter's cumbersome video camera in Max Headroom also recalls the past, even despite the obvious technological advancement. Note that even though Carter's camera is capable of real-time, two-way audio and visual communication, it takes the form of an old, bulky gadget that resembles the cameras of the present (or the old, as it were). This obsession with ancient machines and tools mixing with the wildly advanced apparatuses of the future is the only way for some people to cope with the way new technology changes lifestyles and the world.

A more abstract case of anachronism occurs on the subtler, more conceptual level. The advance of technology and wealthy ways of corporations can revive antiquated concepts and practices. The idea of slavery has been abandoned for centuries, yet is brought back through the very same technology that liberates humans from physical constraints. In Gibson's Count Zero Turner's body is not his own, as he is restored from obliteration in order to perform a job; Deckard's retirement is interrupted because of his skill with the advanced replicants, and even the warriors of Section 9 in Ghost in the Shell only use their bodies under a strict contract. Only the wealthy corporations can afford to provide people with life or talent through science, and as such these people rely on these companies for their lives and livelihoods. People as property is restored as a practice and idea, and such anachronism portrays the greedy, clever responses of the wealthy to the advance of the future.

In the most extreme case, the very concept of a biological, organic being is old fashioned; Ghost in the Shell is teeming with synthetic, titanium bodies as people quickly seek to shed the "high maintenance meat-machine" for either a powerful, metal body or existence as a cyberspace entity, as in the Neuromancer series. Nobody wants to remain in the soft, frail bodies of humans, yet the old, unfashionable ideas of the organic being is continuously brought back in the development of the future. Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive depicts the cities of the future as organisms that respond to an invisible DNA and require attention to maintain homeostasis, and Ghost in the Shell introduces the concept of biodiversity and reproduction when Kusanagi and the Puppet Master merge into one. The concepts procreation and homeostasis are certainly normal to the present day viewer, but in the future worlds depicted by many science fiction authors, such concepts are becoming foreign and obsolete. The restoring of these old ideas, however, is another response to the march of mechanization; as the future continues forth, the ideas of the past are hard to abandon or ignore. People cling in order to make sense of what is happening, and some old concepts never die, but merely wait to be reborn. What has already been established is nearly impossible to topple with a simple gadget, no matter how advantageous. The past is intricately linked with the future, and there is no way of acknowledging one without the other.

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