Stories are one of the few true magics. With the right words in the right order, you can evoke an emotion in your audience and influence the way they think. If you do that to enough people, you can shift the public consciousness and maybe even the course of the future. No genre is quite as good at that sort of narrative imagination as science fiction.
It’s there that we first envision future technologies and their potential consequences. Science fiction is a looking glass through which we can glimpse possible futures and attempt to chart the best possible course by either aiming toward them or avoiding their mistakes. It’s also just a lot of fun.
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We love science fiction so much that it’s not just our middle name, it’s the only name we’ve got. Check out some of our favorite possible futures, streaming now on the SYFY app.
The Best Sci-Fi Movies Currently Streaming on SYFY
GHOSTBUSTERS (AND GHOSTBUSTERS II)
Ghostbusters is one of the most recognized and enduring franchises in movie history and this is the movie that started it all. Released in 1984 and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson, Ghostbusters follows the hilarious and world-defining exploits of four ghost hunters in New York.
While the premise of the movie is undoubtedly supernatural — a closer fit for the fantasy or horror genres — the way they handle their spectral adversaries plants them firmly in science fiction territory. Capturing ghosts, it turns out, requires the use of some of science fiction’s most iconic gadgets, including the proton pack (basically a miniaturized particle accelerator), the ghost trap, and the Ecto-1 itself.
When ghosts break out all over New York, it’s up to this rag-tag group of jumpsuit wearing ding-dongs with highly dangerous, experimental equipment to save us from a literal Hell on Earth. If you’re looking for a double dose of ghosts and ghoulies, queue up a double feature with Ghostbusters II.
The 2000 sci-fi thriller Hollow Man is loosely based on the H.G. Wells story The Invisible Man. It stars Kevin Bacon as Dr. Sebastian Cain, a stand in for Wells’ Griffin character. Cain and his team are working on a secret government project to create an invisibility serum for use by the military. As the story begins, they’ve just succeeded at turning a gorilla invisible and returning it to visibility.
Cain should report the success to his superiors, but he doesn’t. Instead, he lies, and pressures his team to begin human testing. Their first subject: Dr. Cain himself. Their serum succeeds in making Cain invisible, but when they try to make him visible again something goes wrong.
The longer Cain remains invisible, the more he separates from reality, thinking himself a god. And he’s loose in the lab — nay, loose in the world — and no one outside even knows he exists.
THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960)
When you think of The Little Shop of Horrors you probably imagine Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steven Martin, and Bill Murray chewing the musical scenery, but the roots of Audrey II go much deeper. The 1986 musical is an adaptation of an off-Broadway stage production, which was itself inspired by the original 1960 black and white film directed by Roger Corman.
The foundations of the story are the same — Seymour is down on his luck, in love with Audrey, and struggling to scrape by working at the flower shop — but their paths diverge pretty significantly by the end. When Seymour’s job is threatened, he offers up a mysterious plant as a means of attracting customers. Unfortunately, the plant is in ill health and nothing he does seems to help until he pricks his finger and stumbles upon the plant’s hunger for blood.
Seymour is caught between his obligations to his boss, his love for Audrey, and the unending hunger of a homicidal plant. His attempts to keep them all happy lead Seymour into a tightening gyre of chaos from which he might never escape.
When a young and successful artist learns he has a terminal brain tumor, he makes the biggest, and last, gamble of his life. Instead of rolling the dice on treatment, he rolls the dice on technology and has his body frozen in cryostasis in the hope that he’ll be resurrected when his body can be cured. Realive picks up 70 years in the future when he becomes the first person to be resurrected. It explores the question of what happens when you get exactly what you wanted, only to discover it isn’t what you hoped.
In the not-so-distant future, climate change has plunged North America into a persistent drought. As farmland shrinks and food production declines, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. To make matters worse, a mysterious and fatal illness is driving a dramatic increase in assisted suicide. The only hope for humanity is the corporation Vastgrow, which not only provides seeds and farming equipment, but also the drones that are necessary for the production of a successful crop. Except that things in Hover‘s dystopian future aren’t precisely as they seem, and the things you think will save you might actually be the things that do you in.
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NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD
You might be tempted to argue that Night of the Living Dead belongs on a horror, rather than science fiction list. To that, we say, “I mean… yeah, but also no.” There’s no arguing that zombies are scary, and that Night of the Living Dead holds a crucial position in their narrative evolution. But you can’t divorce the horror of the shambling dead from the weird and wacky science that creates them.
George Romero’s 1968 classic practically defined the modern zombie and influences everything from The Walking Dead to The Last of Us. While survivors hole up in an abandoned farmhouse, they secure themselves against the ravenous corpses at their door and listen to radio broadcasts about the developing global incident.
Scientists speculate that the strange behavior is a consequence of a downed space probe. On its way back from studying Venus, the probe exploded in the atmosphere over Earth, scattering its cosmic cargo far and wide. They might be spooky decaying monsters at the end of the day, but they are alien spooky decaying creatures. And they are very cool.
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a 2017 space opera from director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element). It is based on the French sci-fi comics Valérian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mézières. The movie takes place in the 28th century on what was once the International Space Station.
When the movie begins, the ISS is more or less as it actually exists in low-Earth orbit. Through a timelapse view we see humanity adding modules to the station.
Eventually, alien explorers arrive and add their own parts to the station, taking it from international to interstellar. Over time, the station becomes so big that it threatens the safety of the Earth itself and is moved into deep space. There, it becomes known as Alpha, a roving city populated by millions of aliens from thousands of planets.
The story focuses on two of the city’s inhabitants, Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne), both United Human Federation soldiers who uncover a tragedy and cover up which threatens the existence of an entire species.
Find even more sci-fi action streaming now on the SYFY app, or head over to Peacock for even more stellatr selections.