Wednesday, January 23, 2013
23 January 2013
Walter Michael Miller b. 1923 died 1/9/1996
(won 1961 Hugo for A Canticle for Leibowitz)
Miller is something of a one hit wonder, but his one hit is very highly regarded. A World War II vet, he was involved in the battle of Monte Cassino, where a Benedictine abbey was bombed, a traumatic experience for him.
After the success of Leibowitz which was completed in 1959, Miller became a recluse. A started a follow-up book Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman but did not finish it. Terry Bisson completed it and it was released in 1997, a year after Miller's death by suicide in 1996.
In the Year 2000!
Prediction: There Will Be No Street Cars in Our Large Cities.
All hurry traffic will be below or high above ground when brought within city limits. In most cities it will be confined to broad subways or tunnels, well lighted and well ventilated, or to high trestles with “moving-sidewalk” stairways leading to the top. These underground or overhead streets will teem with capacious automobile passenger coaches and freight with cushioned wheels. Subways or trestles will be reserved for express trains. Cities, therefore, will be free from all noises.
Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins, in a 1900 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal
Reality: Okay, I'll admit it. Now that I'm getting into the swing of things with this blog, I look forward to Wednesdays. No disrespect to Robert A. Heinlein or Arthur C. Clarke, but Watkins is a much better looking guy, a man who knew how to rock the soul patch without looking like a hipster.
This is the first mention of the moving sidewalk on this blog. It may not inspire awe like flying cars do, but it is a very common prediction, as you will see in the weeks to come. Technically, he is talking about "moving sidewalk" stairways, which we now call escalators. These are much more common than moving sidewalks on flat surfaces, which are limited to large airports for the most part.
Watkins was writing in 1900, but he doesn't get any points here for being a tremendous visionary. The earliest working models of escalators were built in the 1890s.
As for shifting vehicle traffic around so that our metropolitan lives would be quiet and serene... not so much. We city dwellers are still second class citizens when we are not in our automobiles, but overall we've gotten used to it.
Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! We get another Arthur C. Clarke prediction for the Year 2000 from the 1964 BBC TV show Horizon, with an admonishment that when the modern world passes us by as a species, we should be good sports like the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal.
Wait... were they good sports? I'll have to look that up.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!