The Postman

Movie made: 1997 | Set in: 2013-2014

Summary Table
Event Likelihood Time frame
U.S. devastated in nuclear and/or bio war low 2010+

Approach to the future

Scenario exploration


Futurism: 7

Entertainment: 7
Overdone, sometimes overblown, but still an interesting retelling of David Brin’s excellent novel.

Plausibility: 7
If you can come up with a way to largely destroy society, particularly so soon.

Interesting depictions

Societal collapse:
Around 1997, America is largely destroyed by a nuclear attack, plagues, and nuclear winter. Sixteen years later, recovery has barely begun. Survivors live in isolated towns, with little communication with the outside world, and subject to attacks by armed marauders.

The movie successfully conveys the aftermath of such a collapse. People are getting by with 19th century technology and the dwindling remnants of industrial civilization. People yearn for the small things that used to define normalcy, from game shows to mail delivery. And power has ended up in the hands of those willing to use it most ruthlessly, as has happened in several collapsed societies in the 1990s.

Fortunately, it is harder to imagine a route to apocalypse than it used to be. Some remote possibilities:

  • a Russian sub crew becomes deluded or irrational, and destroys dozens of cities with a single launch
  • nuclear-bio war with China, with capabilities the Chinese might develop after 2010.

Other technologies/topics depicted


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The futures depicted in the movies