Science fiction is so vast - it has spawned a seemingly endless selection of sub-genres, including 22nd-century sci-fi. Each century offers a different flavor of sci-fi stories, from realities mostly resembling our own (such as Black Mirror) to 28th-century, hyper-advanced civilizations. The best sci-fi that takes place in the 22nd century, however, has a unique feeling you can't find in other science fiction sub-genres.
The 22nd century is close enough to modern day, so the characters feel contemporary, but there are also colonized alien planets and spaceships. The technology has advanced enough to cover the usual science fiction tropes, while also giving the story enough limitations to make the setting more interesting and believable.
Sci-fi stories based in the 22nd century have the potential for distinct drama incomparable to other time periods. From Alien to Avatar, the 22nd-century sci-fi genre has some of the most skillfully crafted stories in all of science fiction.
If the late '70s Alien was a shining example of a 22nd-century horror movie, then the '80s sequel, Aliens, is the ideal war movie complement. James Cameron perfected his 22nd-century aesthetic with the film’s portrayal of the colony named Hadley’s Hope and the military ship USS Sulaco.
From the technology to the unforgettable characters, Aliens became the standard for near-future worlds by pioneering beloved franchises, including the video game Halo. The filmmakers imbued the all-powerful corporation in the movie, Weyland-Yutani, with more in-depth characterization as a terraforming conglomerate with squabbling executives. Thus, we see more aspects of Earth’s future society right down to the Colonial Marine Corps.
Most people (correctly) love Alien, but they don't necessarily put stock in what year the franchise takes place. The first film begins in 2122, and in many ways, Alien set the stage for what 22nd-century sci-fi would entail.
The evil corporations, grungy technology, and relatable crew of the Nostromo emerged from an untrusting, 1970s-inspired view of the world. This paranoia, along with the film's believable approach to space travel, has made Alien a science fiction classic, as well as a thematic guidebook to 22nd-century stories.
A mix of anime sensibilities in a cyberpunk shell, The Matrix inspired a renewed interest in near-future stories. Though the setting squeaks into the 22nd-century sci-fi timeline, it uses the year 2199 to its full benefit.
Some characters can't stand their desolate future, so they choose to instead thrive in the richness and breadth of the available technology. The storyline runs through a checklist of 22nd-century fiction themes - from overly strict governmental control to robots and rebellion - making this movie arguably one of the most defining 22nd-century stories.
A big part of 22nd-century sci-fi involves humanity's first steps in colonizing other worlds. Set in 2154, Avatar brings forth James Cameron's passion for world-building, which is evident in the Aliens-inspired design concepts.
Incorporating another significant 22nd-century theme, Avatar takes an irreparably damaged Earth, then uses contrasts and a thorough aesthetic to tell its story.