President Obama Picks His Sci-Fi Favorites, Talks Love of 'Star Trek'

Nick Schager

President Obama recently announced that he’s set a goal for humans to travel to Mars and back by the 2030s — a project that, even with current technological advances, seems amazingly ambitious. Obama’s reach-for-the-stars goal should come as no surprise, however, given that the commander-in-chief has long been fascinated by science and imagining worlds beyond our own, a fact evidenced by his all-time favorite sci-fi viewing list in the November issue of Wired magazine, for which he served as guest editor.

Related: Visual Effects Pioneer Douglas Trumbull on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ 

Obama names Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey as his top sci-fi pick, followed by another beloved and highly influential genre classic, Ridley Scott’s 1982 Philip K. Dick adaptation Blade Runner. (No word, however, on how excited POTUS is about the forthcoming sequel from Sicario director Denis Villeneuve, to be called Blade Runner 2049.)

His full list and brief comments to Wired about each:

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (“captures the grandeur and scale of the unknown”)
  2. Blade Runner (“asks what it means to be human”)
  3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (“fundamentally optimistic”)
  4. Star Wars (“it was fun and revolutionized special effects”)
  5. Star Trek (“uses science fiction to promote a humanistic ethic”)
  6. The Martian (“shows humans as problem solvers”)
  7. The Matrix (“it asks basic questions about our reality — and looks very cool”)
  8. Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (“it fed [Obama’s] lifelong fascination with space”)

Related: ‘Blade Runner 2’ Director Says the Sequel ‘Has Its Own Life’

Click over to Wired for a handy primer on the streaming and Blu-ray/DVD options for watching these great sci-fi films. In a separate video (watch it above), Obama discusses his particular love of Star Trek, which he says embodies many core American values. “That is what I love most about America,” he says, “that spirit of ‘oh, we can figure this out.’ If we ever lose that spirit, then we’re gonna lose what is essential about America and what I think is essential about being human… We’ve all got a little bit of Spock and a little bit of Kirk and a little bit of Scotty, maybe some Klingon in us, right?”

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’: Watch a vintage trailer: