9 Sci-Fi Books, Movies, and Video Games Featuring Detroit Connections

Detroit Become Human is a 2018 narrative video game. // Image courtesy of Quantic Dream

Futuristic concepts like time travel, robots, near-future dystopias, cybernetic cityscapes, aliens, and more make up many different themes and tropes present in the science fiction genre. The city of Detroit and surrounding areas are also home to many talented creators of the genre, and local spots often serve as backdrops for sci-fi stories. Here are nine different sci-fi stories with Detroit connections.

Detroit: Become Human

Set in a futuristic version of Detroit where androids are designed to help humanity, the 2018 narrative video game experience from video game developer Quantic Dream, Detroit: Become Human, follows the stories of three different androids. Inspired by movies like blade runner, Detroit: Become Human explores the implications and blurred lines of what happens when machines designed to serve humanity gain sentience and free will. The game is extremely accessible, even for those unfamiliar with video games, as it is more like a movie where the player controls decisions and can affect the outcome of the story.

bird box

Originally a 2014 novel by Josh Malerman, bird box was adapted into a Netflix movie in 2018 and became the #1 most-watched movie on the platform until being beaten by red notice in 2021. bird box is a post-apocalyptic thriller set in a world ravaged by unseen entities – or rather, everyone who has seen the entities no longer lives to tell the tale as anyone who sees them is instantly forced to commit suicide. The plot follows a woman who blindfolds herself with her two children as they embark on a journey down the river to try and find safety.

Minimum wage magic

Minimum wage magic by Rachel Aaron blends both fantasy and sci-fi in its unique setting of the Detroit Free Zone (DFZ), a magical, futuristic cyberpunk version of the city that’s teeming with fantastical creatures, mechanical body augmentations, and spells magical. The series follows a woman named Opal who is looking to make a big score working as a cleaner in the seedy, lawless DFZ when her latest job takes her on a mad dash through town. The DFZ series is a spin-off of Aaron’s previous series Favorites, set 20 years in the future. However, no prior knowledge of Favorites is required to enjoy this adventure.

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Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a video game by Detroit native Neil Jones. // Image courtesy of Neil Jones

Aerial_Knight never give in

Detroit native, video game developer and 3D artist Neil Jones, also known as “Aerial_Knight”, posted Aerial_Knight never give in in 2021. The game is a celebration of black culture and black creators. It features a young man named Wally as he survives in a hyper-neon futuristic Detroit after finding evidence that could have a dramatic impact on the city. The game has simple to learn controls that make it good for beginners as well as plenty of room for challenges that will keep players of all skill levels engaged.


The 1987 film is set in a dystopian Detroit future ruled by the sinister mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products and its privatized Detroit police force. Detroit police officer Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) dies in a violent operation to take down the crime lord known as Boddicker and is brought back to life as a powerful cyborg. The film is considered by many die-hard sci-fi fans to be a certified sci-fi classic. It was also highly influential in the science fiction genre, setting the bar for themes such as man versus machine, capitalist corporate control, and robotic action.

real steel

A giant robot boxing show from 2011 with Hugh Jackman, Real Steel was filmed exclusively in and around Detroit. It includes places like the Renaissance Center, Cobo Arena (now Huntington Place), the Detroit Fire Department Headquarters, the Russell Industrial Center, the Ingham County Courthouse, the Leslie Michigan Railroad Depot, the former Belle Isle Zoo and the Highland Park Ford factory. . The film is about a former professional boxer, Charlie Kenton (Jackman), who connects with his son, Max (Dakota Goyo), after Max’s mother dies. Father and son train a robot named Atom to fight in a futuristic version of boxing featuring robots instead of humans.

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Grievers is the 2011 dystopian novel by Adrienne Maree Brown. // Photo courtesy of Juan Carlos Barquet

The mourners

Detroit writer and activist Adrienne Maree Brown’s dystopian debut novel – the sci-fi thriller The mourners — was released in 2021. The plot of The mourners is about a future Detroit suffering from a mysterious illness that leaves anyone it infects in a catatonic, unresponsive state. The book tells the story of a young woman named Dune. She investigates the disease using her late father’s research notes and searches for a cure as the quarantined town begins to wither and die.

The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations

The butterfly effect, the idea that an act as small as killing a butterfly in the past can upset the entire future, is such a well-known story that the concept is considered a cliché in the travel subgenre in the world. time and is constantly referenced. The term was originally used by meteorologist Edward Lorenz to describe how tiny changes could lead to large-scale effects, and later became known as one of many important rules to follow when jumping into the past. The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations was released in theaters in 2009 and was filmed and set in Detroit. The plot follows Sam Reide (Chris Carmack), who travels back in time to save his sister, Jenna Reide (Rachel Miner), from dying in a fire, an act that creates a very different timeline and leads to the indictment of a innocent man. murder.

One if

fans of the hunger games and maze runner would likely find Detroit native Carol B. Allen’s young adult series Virago Fantasy as their ally. Published in 2020, the first book in the series, One if, tells the story of three teenagers transported to an alien planet that has succumbed to the ramifications of climate change and is on the brink of war. Eddie, one of the three main characters, is from Detroit, the way the author portrays his hometown.

About Herbert L. Leonard

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