Future Tense: Letting Go of Yesterday's Tomorrows



+ Add a Comment


When is A Method for Madness coming out? i have been waiting for over a decade, so please just finish it.  




I think the biggest "oops" in science fiction was the "giant manned ships" theme that was assumed to be a given.
From "heighliners" to "federation starships", the thought was to build BIG. The 1950's and 60's were a time of building big: huge aircraft carriers, huge B52 bombers, tall skyscrapers, huge atomic power plants, large orbiting satellites, moon bases, space stations, and the space shuttles. These “BFF’s” are slowly disappearing one by one. Why?

 When science fiction was being written, the writers had to try to make the future believable to hold their readers attention. “And then GOD built an asteroid base” would be a big cheat!  Writers had to try to extrapolate the future from their present technologies. Thus the “if it’s big now, then they will be bigger in the future” was a given. But just the exact opposite is happening.

I remember reading early Heinlein and his “slipstick (slide rule) space ship navigation”. He really had no clue that slide rules would totally disappear in less than 5 years. Watches? Who in their right minds would expect WATCHES to change into cheap, incredibly accurate digital devices. Phones in the palm of your hand? Star Trek communicators were supposed to be in the 2200’s!

Shrinking and more powerful technologies completely flipped the “bigger is better”. The big stuff is proving to be grossly inefficient (save for container ships). The space shuttle is an anachronism from the cold war. Giant bombers are being replaced by small unmanned planes that cost nothing in comparison to a B1 bomber. The space station astronauts do more maintenance than science. Telecommuting is a hell of a lot more efficient than traveling to NYC and going up 50 stories to your office. The best science of Mars will not be done by a grossly expensive manned mission but by dozens of cheap(er) dedicated robotic probes.

Science fiction is adapting but most near future science fiction still extrapolates the future from present technology. The future is just too hard to predict!

PS: Flying cars? I am glad THAT never happened!



Where is the paperless office?  ;)  Seriously though.... today we should be more paperless than what we are.  Go e-readers!

Great article!  It helped put things in a different perspective for me.  We all know that we've advanced a lot in the last 30 years, but yes it happened one day at a time and crept up on us; that's how it works.

Its funny how we can get so frustrated at/with technology now because our needs/wants/requirements change so rapidly.  If you were given the same technology 20 years ago that we take for granted today we'd think it was magic.



The WONDERFUL, the FANTASIC, Sarbanes-Oxely Act.  Courtess of your favorite accountants' lobby group.


So, there will probably never, ever, be a paperless office - at least as long as there are accountants and auditors.

This article was great - I always wondered why we didn't have flying cars until I realized the seriousness of changing the acronym DUI to FUI (flying while intoxicated).  Imagine the horror of New Year's Eve if everyone had a flying car!





Dude, where's my frickin' Eugenics Wars of the 1990's!???!!!?



Thumbs up! This article was a good read.




 Welcome!  I like it, very nice column, fits in well with MPC and us who come here to read.


~~The difference between insanity and genius is merely succes~~



an enjoyable column.  it made me think of Heinlin's Starship Troopers (the book, not the PoS movie) and the progress the military is making with human exoskeletons and automated war machines.

i wish humanity would collectively yearn and work a bit more to encourage, reward and cultivate personal responisiblity, too.  i guess that sort of semi-utopian societywon't be here until star date 1843.2.  when it's not, i know who to blame!



 *claps* the future past is a tricky beast. I mean I'm writing a novel penned in 2004, set in 1993 and the team geek is geing excited about "portable digital media, like a cd player only with no CD!" and it blows the minds of his friends. Then he talks about stores Gigabytes of data on these mini drives (back in a time a 1.3mb email would be considered "large" and "broadband" was a 56kbps modem.

Coming soon to Lulu.com --Tokusatsu Heroes--
Five teenagers, one alien ghost, a robot, and the fate of the world.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.