Though it’s become de rigueur to complain about the lack of jetpacks in modern times, I never particularly cared whether or not the 21st century would offer us the possibility of personal air travel (and accompanying fiery death).
Instead, having grown up on thrilling educational picture books like Future Cities, all I really wanted was to put the accelerator down on groovy futuristic living and working spaces.
You can imagine my excitement, then, when some years back Apple announced plans to build a $5-billion-dollar “campus” in Cupertino, California, that looked a lot like one of those donut-shaped future cities of my youth.
With their new “Mothership” nearing completion, Wired‘s Steven Levy got a sneak peek at Apple’s facility this week. The main building, called the Ring, overflows with high-tech features and plenty of the lifestyle additions befitting a 21st century tech megalith, like a huge yoga studio and a mind-boggling 100,000-square-foot gym.
Alas, as many critics have noted, Apple has failed to incorporate any childcare facilities within the Ring. As Louise Mozingo, an urban design professor at UC Berkeley, told Levy, “It’s an obsolete model that doesn’t address the work conditions of the future”.
(We could, of course, all be forced to suck eggs when it’s eventually revealed Apple has installed a state of the art cloning facility in the depths of the Ring; checkmate, feminists.)
But back to the present. Writing for Quartz, Mike Murphy notes the lack of childcare options also puts Apple behind the corporate eight-ball: “On-site childcare remains a rare feature in corporate America. But it’s been shown to do wonders for parents of young children. Its presence has helped Patagonia, for example, to retain 100 per cent of the women on staff who have had children over the past five years. (The average in the US is under 80 per cent.)”
With all this in mind, and considering the fact that Apple seems to be very proud that their expensive new corporate hellscape – sorry, campus – looks like something out of a science fiction movie (as Steve Jobs himself told Cupertino councillors back in 2011, “It’s a little like a spaceship landed”), I thought I’d do a survey of terrifying science fiction habitats, colonies and spaceships with better childcare options than Apple.
1. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977)
Looking for long-term childcare options while you work on your suite of Devil’s Tower paintings? Call 1900-MOTHERSHIP and have your little ones sucked out through the cat-flap today!
2. ENDER’S GAME (2013)
It’s true, your children might well be being used as unwilling pawns in an interplanetary war against innocent space bugs, but look on the bright side: while they’re installed at the International Fleet’s Battle School, they’re being given three square meals a day and plenty of exercise. Plus, they’re finally finding a use for all that time they wasted playing video games instead of doing their homework!
3. WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005)
Totally beat after a few days’ worth of trying not to be eviscerated by blood-hungry alien “tripods”, working dad Ray Ferrier gets some much-needed rest by taking his young daughter Rachel into the mould-ridden basement hideout of Harlan Ogilvy. Harlan is basically an au pair!
4. LOST IN SPACE (1965)
No matter what problems befell the pioneering Robinson family on their journeys throughout universe, their Class B-9-M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot was always there to wave his arms and yell “Danger, Will Robinson!!” if little Will got himself in a spot of bother. Given they developed Siri, who’s been such a hit with kids, surely Apple could’ve stumped for some sort of robot babysitter at Cupertino?
5. ALIENS (1986)
Terraforming colony Hadley’s Hope is positively crawling with kids; they even have cute little Weyland-Yutani tricycles to hoon around on! And even once a bunch of dimwitted colonists accidentally introduce bloodcurdling and deadly Xenomorphs to the habitat, Hadley’s is still kid-friendly: little Newt is kept nice and cosy in her trash-filled ventilation shaft bedroom. She’s even got a doll to keep her busy while you try to avoid dying in a 40-megatonne explosion!
6. ELYSIUM (2013)
Uniquely offering a great range of childcare options across both its terrifying dystopian vision of future Los Angeles (cheerful orphanages staffed by caring nuns; plenty of games to play in the streets) and its eponymous offworld colony (rolling green gardens, high-tech med-pods for any playful scrapes), Elysium is a dream for working parents.
7. THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
Let’s face it: life is pretty tough in Panem. While you’re working down the pit, you could do worse than have your children shipped off to the Capitol on that fancy passenger train. They can eat whatever they want, train with high-tech equipment, get a cool new outfit, and –bonus!– there’s a very slim chance they’ll return to you alive. Meanwhile, you keep working on stocking the Capitol’s coffers. It’s a win for everybody!