This whole research is based on the systematic analysis of 289 imaginaries depicting the soldier of the future. The work has been done by looking at comics, manga, animation, video games, films and literature and by evaluating more that sixteen variables each time. The work is an ongoing one and our main issue is to clarify how to dig into imaginaries of SF in order to sustain the practice of imagining the future in a coherent and powerful way.

Even though it still needs an enormous amount of work (for example, we are obviously lacking information regarding literature, and are digging into that), the dataviz offers a quick and rough summary of that work in progress and already allows us to capture a few key elements:

1.     First of all, and that might be the main takeaway at that point, not every cultural source offers the same potential.

Each cultural object (medium) is deeply rooted in a specific cultural context. So this is no surprise that the “mini meccha” and “giant meccha” trope is much more developed in the anime and manga world. Giant robots being a recurrent topic in Japan, their human piloted counterparts are easily found in these two mediums. On the opposite, the “powered armor” trope is widely used in comics (if you are not bitten by a spider, then a nice exoskeleton or suit is nice for narrative purposes). This means that if one is looking at fictions in order to speculate about the future of war, one needs to select the adequate medium to dive in. This is a “medium prism” that we hypothesize might exist regarding any topic of interest.

2.     Looking at each category of augmentation, we see that some characteristics are widely offered to the soldier.

Unsurprisingly, the first one is an increased strength. Clearly an issue that has always been one for every army in the world and that continues to be. Flying is also something that is a recurring trope and sees development in real life. Looking at the Zapata flyboard reminds us of the green goblin’s board and it seems that it would of interest for an army.

3.     The imaginaries also offer interesting visions of future fields of warfare: almost 10% of our database deals with an enhanced soldier having to fight in space or under water.

Videogames are particularly interesting here and the developers have been deeply speculating about this (check Halo for exemple).

So, what those first learnings highlight is that the way future is created is absolutely not neutral. But it is possible to identify rules internal to a category of imaginaries or a specific type of medium. This finding might help us to speed up the way we access relevant imaginaries by focusing on a specific source in order to avoid over-interpretation by missing the fact that some subjects or interactions are far more explored than others.


Note : the bubbles do not represent 100% in each category because there are sometimes much more variables, but we could not represent everything in the dataviz. For example in the “limitations & vulnerabilities” part we have close to thirty different types of them, so we had to select a limited number