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Technofiction Review of "In Time" (2011)

The story is a parable commenting on Social Darwinism. We see ultra rich and "proles" -- to borrow a term from the book "1984". We see a bit of prole lifestyle -- people living with days or hours of life left between "paychecks" -- and a bit of ultra-rich -- people with centuries of life displayed on their arms. There is nothing shown of people in between or crossovers -- people with lots of time and no money, or vice versa. So this story is purely parable, it's not exploring a neat new technology. (In fact, the most amazing thing in the movie is watching Amanda Seyfried sprint in contemporary high heels. Yeah, she really manages to do it! Wow!)

That said, here are some Technofiction details that didn't make sense:

* Everyone wears their "bank balance" on their arm. And, there is no security: You can transfer time, and steal time, just by locking arms with another person. This community should have devised a bit of courtesy about this information by now, as well as some security.

* There is no discussion of where this time comes from, as in, how it is made. There is lots of talk and demonstration of how it replaces money, and how there is a hyperinflation going on, and the usurious interest rates for loans made by proles, but none about how the time people are given is created or distributed.

* This future has this wondrous time invention, but only contemporary surveillance ability. These time transactions are treated like credit card transactions, but for some reason, the time movements can't be traced well enough by the police to track down the protagonist quickly even after he "scores" an extra hundred years.

* There's a lot of depiction of reality show style new wealth, but none of old wealth or old competence. These wealthy people are not shown as experts at anything. Likewise, the one shot we see of proles working shows mindless assembly work. This is something robots should be doing.

* No one acts like an old mind in a young body. Everyone acts young... and conventionally enough to keep this story advancing in a very conventional fashion.

* If these bodies are genetically engineered to always be young, they could easily be engineered to always be infertile as well. There's no need for the worry of a Malthusian crisis. (described in the story as the root reason society has this proles/ultra rich split) Plus, there is no opt-out of this program, no one has a choice not to participate.

So, the movie is a disappointment... unless you are excited by parables about the evils of social Darwinism. There's no magic or wonder in the lives of these people living with this wondrous technology. The most wondrous part is Seyfried moving at high speed in her heels.

Roger Bourke White Jr. has been around. He was a soldier in Vietnam in the '60's, an engineering student at MIT in '70's, a computer networking pioneer in the '80's, and a teacher in Korea in the '90's. He loves writing science fiction and has many works posted at White World.

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