Thursday, January 31, 2013

31 January 2013

Justin Timberlake b. 1981

He is better known for his music career and his best known film role is probably in The Social Network, but Justin has been in speculative fiction films including In Time and Southland Tales.

Prediction: Moon base CLAVIUS is completed in 1994

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke from 2001: A Space Odyssey, published 1968

Reality: This was at the height of the excitement about landing on the moon. A lot of people were sure this was just the beginning.

Then again, a lot of people back then were sure that Joe Namath was just a loudmouth playboy and the New York Jets couldn't possibly beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

I know that as a nerd I am supposed to be excited about the conquest of space, but any place where you have to bring your own water and air because there is absolutely none to be had is not a good place to visit.

That place is actively trying to kill you. No water, no air... that's a dealbreaker in my book.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Yet another French postcard from 1900 where people are underwater and acting like jerks... in the Year 2000!

I'm beginning to detect a pattern.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

30 January 2013

Christian Bale b. 1974
Gregory Benford b. 1941
(won 1981 Nebula for Timescape)

In the year 2000!

Prediction:  Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour. To go from New York to San Francisco will take a day and a night by fast express. There will be cigar-shaped electric locomotives hauling long trains of cars. Cars will, like houses, be artificially cooled. Along the railroads there will be no smoke, no cinders, because coal will neither be carried nor burned. There will be no stops for water. Passengers will travel through hot or dusty country regions with windows down.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal,  1900

Reality: Most trains do not travel 120 mph. Express trains like the bullet train in Japan can go faster than 150, but the United States doesn't have a high speed train system in place, so New York to San Francisco by train takes a lot longer than 24 hours.

But after those first three sentences, Watkins gets everything right. Air conditioned trains, no coal used and no stops for water, sealed compartments safe from the elements. On lots of trains, passengers don't have the option of opening windows at all.

When you think that this guy lived in the era of steam trains and horse drawn carriages, his predictions are very good.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Arthur C. Clarke looks ahead from 1968 to the completion of the first moon base in 1994.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

29 January 2013


1955 San Francisco replaces the cable cars with moving stairways.

from The Roads Must Roll by Robert A. Heinlein, published 1940

Reality: Sci fi writers love the moving sidewalk and moving road, but "moving stairway" is just another way of saying escalator.

Cable cars are cool. Escalators are dull. They would have to take up sidewalk space instead of road space. You think tourists are going to wait in line to ride escalators from Market Street to Fisherman's Wharf?

Ahh, hellz no, as we say in Oakland.

There is no way San Francisco would ever give up part of its unique flavor for such a boring idea.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  

John Elfreth Watkins envisions a high speed railway system linking East Coast to West, making a trip from New York to San Francisco in less than 24 hours ... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 28, 2013

28 January 2013

Elijah Wood b. 1981
Ty Olsson b. 1974

1993: Two connected computers, sharing one memory that communicates with both systems, will have the capability of defeating the human world champion at chess.

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac in 1982

Reality: I love how specific the Future Almanac gets. This is from a list of projected computer milestones from 1990-2010.

They were a few years early and several computers short. World Champion Garry Kasparov beat the IBM computer Deep Blue in 1996, but the reprogrammed and redesigned computer won the rematch the next year with 2 wins, 1 loss and 3 draws in a six game match.

Having two computers sharing one memory is called parallel processing. Deep Blue was an example of massive parallel processing, with a total of 30 main general purpose microprocessors, each with 16 extra chips specifically designed to analyze positions on the chess board. This was great publicity for massive parallel processing, a method that sounds cool to the "bigger is better" part of our human brains, but one that doesn't always produce the optimal results in terms of speed and computing power when compared with other supercomputers.

If I was giving out grades, Deep Blue obviously gets an A and I'll give the prediction a B+ for getting the decade right and the detail that parallel processing would be used. I give Garry Kasparov full marks for sportsmanship for giving the computer a second chance, which is a better grade than IBM gets, since they dismantled Deep Blue after the 1997 victory, robbing Kasparov of a chance for vindication.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Robert A. Heinlein gets on the moving sidewalk bandwagon.

Wait, is it a moving sidewalk or is it a bandwagon?  Oh, you know what I mean.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

27 January 2013

Alan Cumming b. 1965

His best known work in sci-fi/fantasy genre is in the X-Men and Spy Kids series. My favorite work of his is still The Anniversary Party.

Prediction: 1963: Albania unleashes a nuclear attack on Italy and World War Three begins.

Predictor: Nevil Shute from On The Beach published 1957
The 1959 movie version moves the year to 1964.

Reality: Albania? Really?

Nuclear war was a very prevalent idea in the culture back in the middle of last century and this book was one of the early best sellers on the topic.

But Albania starts it? I mean seriously, Nevil, there's creativity and then there's just being goofy.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

The Omni Future Almanac gets really specific about when a computer will be capable of beating the world champion human at chess.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

26 January 2013


Philip José Farmer b. 1918 died 2/25/2009
(won 1972 Hugo for To Your Scattered Bodies Go)

Prediction: In 2012, young people would be listening to "new sounds from the computers" and no one would play instruments anymore.

Predictor: Archie Comics, 1972

Reality: The computer as jukebox is a real thing. Of course, a comic book artist in 1972 is a year before from the microprocessor revolution, so he can be forgiven for drawing the computer the size of washer-dryer combo. And of course, with the reality of tiny musical computer systems actually available in 2012, everyone should be wearing headphones, completely oblivious to the rest of the room. Maybe they are installed inside their helmets.

Fashion note: I love that IN THE FUTURE guys are wearing onesies and the goofy hat has made such a fantastic comeback as a fashion accessory for both men and women.

Thanks: Regular reader Leo Lincourt found this gem and sent it to me.  Thanks, Leo!

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Who starts World War Three? Why, Albania, of course. And when will it start? In that dreaded year IN THE FUTURE... 1963!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, January 25, 2013

25 January 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: The public will be transported in comfort on moving sidewalks.

Predictor: Hildebrands German Chocolate, circa 1900

Reality: Futurists loved the moving sidewalk/road almost as much as they loved the flying car. Remember that The Jetsons had moving walkways everywhere. (Sadly, the year given for The Jetsons was 2062, 100 years after the show's airdate, so it's too far in the future to be useful by the rules of this blog, either dates already past or in the near future.)

In any case, while the technology is very easy, you rarely see moving sidewalks outdoors and exposed to the elements, and the main use is in large airports, not on city streets.

Observation: As always, I love the style and wonderful use of colors by this illustrator, whose name I have not been able to track down yet.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Archie Andrews gets to see what it will be like to be a teen... in 2012!

Yes, that Archie Andrews. Sorry, neither Betty or Veronica join him on this fantastic voyage.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

24 January 2013

David Gerrold b. 1944

Gerrold did write other things, including a novelette The Martian Child that won the Hugo and Nebula prizes, but his enduring contribution to popular culture is The Trouble With Tribbles, an episode from the original Star Trek series.

And no, I will not make a Shatner toupee joke. It's much too easy and cheap.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction:  The smartest individuals will be computers. We shouldn’t feel bad about this. After all, we outdid the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal. It's a privilege to be a stepping stone. Evolution for humans as we know it is coming to an end.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke on the 1964 BBC-TV show Horizon.

Reality: Clarke goes to the trouble of calling the best computers of his day "morons", and it would be hard to say that in 2000. After all, Deep Blue beat the human chess champion of the world in tournament conditions in 1997. It's several years later, but IBM has created a computer that can play Jeopardy! at championship levels. As a programmer, someone who used to play chess seriously and a Jeopardy! champ, I have to say Jeopardy! is much harder to teach a computer than chess is.

It cannot be denied that computers can do difficult things that we often count as "intelligent" but I'm not sure that should count as "intelligence". A computer can decide on the next move in a chess game, but it can't decide on what it should do next when the game is over. The true seed of creativity, the ability to have a useful thought different from the things you already know, is not something computers have and I'm not sure they ever will have it.

And then there's evolution. Some people think of evolution as "progress", but the true biological definition is about change in proportions in gene pools without any judgment as to whether that change is good or bad. Evolution is still ongoing in the human species today.

As for being good sports about being replaced at the top of the heap, this also smacks of a view of the world common among the educated British of Clarke's era. We don't have any Cro-Magnon or Neanderthal spokesfolks to ask how they felt going extinct and out-competed by those uppity Homo Sapiens, but I'll go out on a limb and guess that good sportsmanship would not be an accurate description of their feelings.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Another postcard from 1900 designed to sell German chocolates by letting people in on the secrets... in the Year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

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!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

22 January 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Contraception and control of disease is revising relations between the sexes to an extent that will change our entire social and economic structure.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Reality: Heinlein gets full marks for this one. The first birth control pills are a few years away, as is Salk's polio vaccine. While he might lose a half point for being vague about the nature of the change of the social and economic structure, he clearly sees it's coming and he's absolutely right the change in fifty years would be more drastic than what we had seen in the hundred years prior.

Nice work, Bob! Good on ya!

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  John Elfreth Watkins foretells of the wonderfully healthy and quiet cities that exist ... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 21, 2013

21 January 2013

Prediction for 1941: The modern city is virtually noise free, thanks to silent riveting machines, more melodious auto horns and quieter subways. Building of the future will be soundproof, just as they are now built to be fireproof.

Predictor: Edward F. Brown, director of the noise-abatement commission of New York City in 1931

Reality: Let's see, what does a rivet machine have to do? Just shoves a large piece of metal into another piece of metal or a slab of concrete.  That shouldn't take much energy or effort, now should it?

Oh, wait... just remembering some basic physics... Yeah, this should take a lot of energy and effort. Silent riveting machines didn't show up on the director's time table.

Another great prediction from The Wonderful Future That Never Was, the 2009 book produced by Popular Mechanics culling their predictions from 1969 and earlier. If you like early to mid-20th Century futurism, you should get a copy of this one for yourself. There's lots of great stuff that doesn't give specific dates so you won't see it quoted here, but the pictures and text are still a lot of fun. Click on this link to get the book on or order it at your favorite local bookstore.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Robert A. Heinlein in 1950 gets one completely right about the changing relations between the sexes  ... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

20 January 2013

Buzz Aldrin b. 1930
DeForest Kelley b. 1920, died 6/11/1999

Great birthday choices today. You couldn't go wrong putting a picture of any of these guys up here, but I'm gonna go with Bones this year. Next January 20th, you know... IN THE FUTURE, I'll put up a picture of Buzz Aldrin.

Movie releases
Underworld Awakening released, 2012 

In the Year 2000!

 Marilyn Cumberle doesn’t want to get plastic surgery to look like everyone else

from Number Twelve Looks Just Like You a Twilight Zone episode aired 24 January 1964, written by John Tomerlin, credited to Charles Beaumont

Reality: Plastic surgery is very common, but it isn’t mandatory yet.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

Popular Mechanics lets us know about the quiet and comfortable city waiting for us... in 1941.

No that's not the prediction date, 1941 is... THE FUTURE!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

19 January 2013

2019: Los Angeles is a wasteland patrolled by berserk gangs, due to mass personality implant technology gone bad
from Epitaph One, a DVD/web episode from season 1 of Dollhouse

Reality: Personality implant technology isn’t real.

 Keep telling yourself that.

(No, seriously, this is way outside modern technological abilities.)

From left to right: Zack Ward, Adair Tishler, Felicia Day

Okay, today we get a few new labels. First, this is a Joss Whedon show, so we get "Whedonverse" as a label. Also, this is the first of many apocalypses (apocalypi?) predicted from science fiction we have covered. Quite often, the apocalypse is only a few years away from the date when TV show or movie first came out.

You know, just for dramatic effect.

Keep telling yourself that.

(No, seriously, people expecting the complete breakdown of society need to have their meds adjusted.)

So I'm ripping off a line from David Bowie's Five Years, "We've got five years/ And that's all we've got.", with the slight change that it's not always five years.  This one pushes the apocalypse out to ten years. Many will be the labels of the form "We've got n years/ And that's all we've got", with n as a variable.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Forced plastic surgery insures everyone will be FAAAABULOUS!... in the Year 2000!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, January 18, 2013

18 January 2013

Jay Chou b. 1979  (Kato in the reboot of The Green Hornet)
Robert Anton Wilson b. 1932 died 1/11/2007
(never won a Hugo or Nebula)
(the blackballing bastards)

Okay, sue me. I liked his Illuminatus! books.
In the year 2000!

Last week, a 1900 German postcard imagined what it would be like if we had the power of flight. It was a world of pleasant weekend outings for well dressed people.

In this drawing from a 1900 French postcard, small flying hooligans are trying to steal eaglets from an aerie, beating back the understandably distraught mother eagle with a small stick.

This is just one of many of the French postcards that will make people who hate the French feel justified.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Mind control becomes the seed for the apocalypse just around the corner.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17 January 2013

Michael Bay spawned 1965
James Earl Jones b. 1931

Many happy returns to Mr. Jones, of course.

As for Michael Bay, it is the policy of this blog that not every science fiction film ever made has to be acknowledged, but any movie that sold more than $100 million in tickets at the U.S. box office is to be noted, so Michael Bay makes it to the list, regardless of how much or how little esteem I hold him in.

(Hint: little. Very little.  Teeny tiny.)

Facts from 2001!
Prediction: By 2001, the world’s population has passed six billion. No one has used an atomic weapon in war since Nagasaki.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke from his 1968 work 2001: A Space Odyssey, the novelization of the screenplay
Reality:  Old ACC gets these two 100% correct.The six billion mark was reached in 1999 and when the last century turned, there still had not been a nuke dropped on an enemy since 1945, a winning streak for all of humankind that continues to this day.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Another postcard from 1900 predicting the wonders of the year 2000. This one is a French postcard (Oh la la!) and as often happens, the French expect people in the future to be incredible jerks.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

16 January 2013

In the year 2000!
Prediction: Gymnastics will begin in the nursery, where toys and games will be designed to strengthen the muscles. Exercise will be compulsory in the schools. Every school, college and community will have a complete gymnasium. All cities will have public gymnasiums. A man or woman unable to walk ten miles at a stretch will be regarded as a weakling.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in The Ladies' Home Journal, published 1900

Reality: Baby toys include pull-up bars. Schools always have gyms, though not all cities have public gyms, there are lots of public parks for basketball, tennis, handball, softball, baseball and soccer. I don't know if the ten mile walk is the standard measure of "non weakling-hood". Depending on whether you walk quickly or slowly, that's at least two and a half hours and maybe more like four.  It's more a question of "Who has the time?" than it is "Who has the strength?"

Watkins suffered an accident in his early twenties, leaving him only fit for office work and died in his early fifties in 1903. There were many advocates of healthy lifestyles at the turn of the century, John Harvey Kellogg and Theodore Roosevelt to name just two, but the fact that the average life expectancy has effectively doubled in 100 years can be attributed more to miracles of modern medicine, notably the eradication of tuberculosis and polio and the taming of influenza as a mass killer, than it can to push-ups and jumping jacks.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Our pal Arthur C. Clarke returns with two predictions from his 1968 work 2001: A Space Odyssey that are right on the money.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

15 January 2013

Movie releases

The Book of Eli, released 15 January 2010


James Nesbitt b. 1965 (Bofur in The Hobbit)  
Robert Silverberg b. 1935
(won 1972 Nebula for A Time of Changes)

In the year 2000!

Prediction:  Freud will be classed as a pre-scientific, intuitive pioneer and psychoanalysis will be replaced by a growing, changing "operational psychology" based on measurement and prediction.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Accuracy: Not so much. Analysts still exist, most of them listen first and prescribe drugs second, Freud is not considered quaint. Heinlein didn't hate the field of psychology quite to the extent his fellow SF author L. Ron Hubbard did, but he did tend to sneer at it.

Then again, when I read Heinlein, I think his idea that really smart people in THE FUTURE would memorize the logarithmic tables to become math whizzes is sneer-worthy as well, so it all evens out in the end.

Next week, I promise to put up a Heinlein prediction that is right on the money.  I mock him, partly for his politics, partly for his math and science cluelessness, partly because his writing style isn't my cup of tea, but he did spot some trends remarkably accurately.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  John Elfreth Watkins returns to tell us of the wonderfully fit and energetic people who live  ... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 14, 2013

14 January 2013

Jason Bateman b. 1969
Lawrence Kasdan b. 1949

Bateman's sci-fi link is co-starring in Hancock.

Kasdan is on the list for work on the screenplays of the Star Wars movies.
 In the year 2000!

Prediction: In 1980, there are six nuclear nations. By 2000, there will be fifteen. In 2020, there will be twenty-eight.

Predictor: The OMNI Future Almanac, published 1982

Reality: The OMNI Future Almanac is a great source of predictions and the first one I pull out is their assumptions about what countries will have nukes in the foreseeable future.

If the great hopes of the futurists were space travel and flying cars, the most common aspects of the futuristic dark side would have to be overpopulation and nukes. Here is a list of countries the writers assumed would be armed with warheads. The countries that actually have nukes are in bold. If a country in bold has an asterisk, that means they have warheads that are controlled by NATO on the sovereign territory, but no nuclear program of their own.

1980: United States, United Kingdom, France, (former) Soviet Union, China, India

2000: Pakistan, Israel,
Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Libya, South Korea, Taiwan, Iraq

Cuba, Venezuela, Nigeria, Zaire, Angola, Spain, Italy*, West Germany*, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, Indonesia, Australia

So they guessed about 22 countries and got 5 kinda, sorta right. South Africa had the bomb and scrapped it, Israel has never confirmed or denied, there are NATO nukes in Italy, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands and Belgium. Countries that had NATO nukes and got rid of them are Canada and Greece. Former Soviet republics that are no longer armed are Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus.

The only nation currently assumed to have nuclear capabilities that wasn't mentioned is North Korea.

The last time a nuke was used in a war was 68 years ago. As crazy and stupid as humans are, no one has been crazy or stupid enough to start a nuclear war yet, though it was touch and go during the Cuban missile crisis according to many accounts.

The positive thing about the current situation is that fear of nuclear war is no longer what it was. We don't get saturated with it by the news or popular culture the way we did in the 1960s or even the 1980s. There is a very good chance it won't happen in my lifetime and (knock wood) even in the lifetimes of my students.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  Robert A. Heinlein discusses something in modern culture he doesn't like and assumes everyone will agree with him... in the year 2000!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

13 January 2013

Liam Hemsworth b. 1990
Patrick Dempsey b. 1966

Young Liam was one of the stars of The Hunger Games. He is the baby brother of Chris Hemsworth, also known for sci-fi and fantasy films.

Dempsey is best known for Grey's Anatomy, but he showed up in a Transformers film, so he gets a mention here on the blog.

Prediction: The world population in 1975 will be 3 billion, written out as 3,000,000,000. By 2000, it will grow to 3,625,000,000.

Predictor: Leo G. Carroll as Professor Gerald Deemer in the 1955 movie Tarantula.

Reality: This is off in several fascinating ways, all of them on the low side.

Lowball estimate #1: He says 2 billion in 1955, the year the movie was made. It was actually closer to 2.8 billion then. He also says the rate of increase is 25 million a year.

Lowball estimate #2: The good professor says 3 billion in 1975. Growing by a billion in 20 years would average out to 50 million a year if we assumed linear growth. (When populations grow, it's usually exponential, a bigger population growing by more than a small one with the same rate, much in the same way the tax on a $100 item at an 8% sales tax would be $8.00, while the tax on a $10 item would be 80 cents. Same tax rate, but more tax in actual dollars on a more expensive item.) In reality, the world population was about 4 billion in 1975.

Lowball estimate #3: The weirdly precise 3,625,000,000 would be exactly the right number if we assumed linear growth of 25,000,000 a year for every year from 1975 to 2000. In reality, it was 1999 when the world population reached 6 billion.

To be fair, this screw-up belongs to the film's writers, Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley. Predicting stuff is hard for everybody. Math is hard only for a portion of the population, and I think these guys belong in that portion.

Just sayin'.

Trivia: The other actors in the scene both did a lot of 50s sci-fi. The young man is played by square-jawed hero type John Agar. The delicious dish in the super styling hat is Mara Corday.

Mmmmmm.... Mara Corday!


Sorry, I lost my train of thought. Where was I?

Oh, yes, special thanks!

Special thanks: This clip was grabbed from the film by my pal Tony Hurd, who saw it and thought of this blog. That was mighty thoughty of him, as Bullwinkle J. Moose would say.

Thanks again, Tony. I love having clips up on The You Tubes.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Monday prediction duties for the foreseeable FUTURE will be shared by Popular Mechanics and the great 1982 book The OMNI Future Almanac, now out of print. It's the Alamnac's first turn tomorrow, with a bold forecast of what countries will have nukes by the year 2000... and beyond!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

12 January 2013

Oliver Platt b. 1960
Kirstie Alley b. 1951
John Lasseter b. 1957

Product launch date for HAL 9000: 12 January 1992

from 2001: A Space Odyssey released 6 April 1968

Predictors: Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick

Reality: I give Clarke some credit for guessing how fast computers would become something pretty cool. A lot of sci fi completely misses how much impact computers will have on people's everyday lives only a few decades away.

That said... a computer with a will of its own.  I worked in the industry and I have a fair understanding of how these things work and we aren't close to making this a reality. Living things come into the world with a will, the need for food and oxygen, a will to re-produce. We have taught computers to do some remarkable things, including playing games as diverse as chess and Jeopardy! at an amazing level of skill, but we haven't taught them to want to play or to want to learn a new game.

One of Vonnegut's pieces of advice for writers of short stories is "All your characters must want something, even if it's just a glass of water." HAL 9000 wanted the success of the mission more than anything else as his crewmates learned, much to their distress. The computer I am writing this on doesn't want anything. As compelling characters, dogs and cats are much more interesting than computers. (Actually, some dogs and cats are much more compelling characters than some humans, but we'll leave that conversation for another day.)

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! We'll know Leo G. Carroll is over a barrel, long before Tarantula! actually takes to the hills.  And what's more, tomorrow's vision into THE FUTURE comes complete with a visit to that fantastic modernistic cyberspace wonderland known as... The You Tubes!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, January 11, 2013

11 January 2013

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: The personal flying machine will be a must-have accessory for the fashionable people.

Predictor: Hildebrand's German Chocolates in 1900. These antique postcards will be alternating with the French postcards for the first few months of the year. Not to give away too many secrets, but the German cards are drawn in a more realistic style and the French make a lot of assumptions that people in the future are going to be... well... incredible dicks, as you will see next week.

Accuracy: Okay, this is several years before the Wright Brothers, so the illustrator is forgiven for massively underestimating how much wing and how much energy it would take to get people aloft. But given how close this concept is to flying cars, it would be against the blog policy to make any further comment on how close this is to reality.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! An exact date for a famous invention!

"Professor?" pipes up a Hypothetical Question Asker. "Could you give us slightly more information that will be understood by all your readers?"

I'm afraid I can't do that... Dave.

To learn all the fascinating details, join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Giving offense where none was intended.

In today's earlier post, I wrote "...we aren't doing much in the way of actual bio-engineering, other than making Siamese cats much uglier."

Some Siamese cat owners wrote to complain.

I actually know the Siamese cats whom I was unfairly tarring with far too broad a brush.

 When I think of the modern Siamese cat that has been bred into something I find unattractive, this is the look I am referring to. The giant ears, long snout and small eyed variety. Does not work for me in any way, shape or form.

The old school Siamese cat is very attractive. Not always super friendly, but good looking without a doubt.

I apologize unreservedly for giving offense where none was intended.

10 January 2013

In the year 2000!

Prediction: "In the world of the future, we will not be the only intelligent creatures. On of the coming techniques will be what we might call bio-engineering, the development of intelligent and useful servants among the other animals on this planet, particularly the great apes, the dolphins and whales.

"It's a scandal that pre-historic man tamed all the domesticated animals we have today. We haven't added one in the past five thousand years. With our current understanding of animal psychology and genetics, we could certainly solve the servant problem with the help of the monkey kingdom.

"Of course, our super-chimpanzees would start forming trade unions and we'd be right back where we started."

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke on the 1964 BBC TV show Horizon.

Accuracy: Well, some monkeys are used as helper creatures for people who do not have the use of their arms, but the great apes have not been pulling their weight so far and we aren't doing much in the way of actual bio-engineering, other than making siamese cats much uglier. There is also the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program, but if you can trust Wikipedia, the Navy has decided it would be more humane to turn the mine detection business over to aquatic robots.

And as much as I might like old ACC, his quip about super-chimp trade unions smacks of the condescending attitude of that less talented futurist Newt Gingrich.


Fran Walsh b. 1959

Ms. Walsh is a screenwriter and partner of director Peter Jackson.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Friday is Antique Postcard Day! We will discover why predictions about life in a hundred years is a terrific way to sell chocolates to Germans.

Or maybe not.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

9 January 2013

In the year 2000!

The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins in 1900, published in The Ladies' Home Journal

Accuracy: Watkins misses in a lot of interesting ways with this set.

The best numbers I can get are that American males are about three and a half inches taller, up from 5'6" in 1900 to 5'9½" in 2000.

The average life expectancy is just barely under 80 instead Watkins' guess of 50. While much lower infant mortality is part of that improvement, the huge change would be the nearly complete eradication of the #1 killer in 1900, tuberculosis, and the taming of influenza with vaccines. (Got your flu shot yet?)

People still have houses in cities, apartments are still built in blocks. When the trains are on time or traffic on the freeway isn't awful, some suburbs are just a few minutes away from the nearest city, but even accounting for inflation, the fare is a lot more than a penny.

One last note. Watkins was born in 1852 and died in 1903 at the age of 51, not that far from the average life expectancy he thought would be the case in the year 2000. I haven't been able to find the cause of death, but I will keep researching.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Thursday means Arthur C. Clarke gets another turn, making the case that it's time monkeys, apes and whales started pulling their own weight and getting jobs.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

8 January 2013

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Interplanetary travel is waiting at your front door -- C.O.D. It's yours when you pay for it. 

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in a set of predictions from 1950.

Accuracy: There was a sub-genre of science fiction called "Hard SF", which was big on scientific accuracy. Heinlein's defenders put him in this category.

You will have to pry the idea of interplanetary travel from the cold, dead brains of the hard SF crowd.

They assumed it would be like explorers traveling to the South Pole. You couldn't stop the the human desires for knowledge, glory and adventure.

Well, we can send machines and learn quite a bit. The dangers and prohibitive cost of human space travel far outweigh the glory and so far, there is very little profit to be made in space exploration. There may be more manned missions to the moon in my lifetime, but I seriously doubt I will live to see a person stepping onto the surface of Mars.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  John Elfreth Watkins gets his second turn at bat, telling us of the marvelous advances in human health that await us... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, January 7, 2013

7 January 2013


Jeremy Renner b. 1971
Mark Allen Shepherd b. 1961  (Morn on Deep Space Nine)

1967: Flying cars powered by four fan like rotors will be available to the public.

Predictor: the July 1957 issue of Popular Mechanics.

Ahh, doesn't it feel a little better now? The air seems cleaner, food tastes better, the birds are singing in tune.

Flying cars. It's almost like being in love.

For the early part of this year, Monday predictions will belong to the magazines. Most of these magazine predictions will come from Popular Mechanics and Omni. Popular Mechanics is still in print, but Omni is long gone. In 2009, Popular Mechanics published a book of their future predictions made before 1969 titled The Wonderful Future That Never Was.

Here is a link to an Internet slideshow from the book.

Here is a link to the Amazon page where you can buy it. 

I will be scavenging the Omni Future Almanac ruthlessly since it is out of print, but the Popular Mechanics book is in print - available in paperback as well - so all I'm going to do is pull pictures and dates from it and write my own text. If you love antique futurism, you should get a copy of this book for your own bad self. Every time I use a picture, there will be a link to purchase. I haven't been in touch with the authors, I'm doing this on my own because I think it's the right thing to do.

There are also some terrific pictures with no exact date attached to them which I will be using for the monthly splash graphic, the position just under the blog title now occupied by the illustration by Syd Mead, loved by all sentient beings, from the storyboards for Blade Runner. For example, the 1940s "cars of the future" are both fat and sleek at the same time. Great stuff.

Reality: It is the express policy of this blog never to discuss reality and flying cars at the same time. So it is written and so it shall be. Amen.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Robert A. Heinlein boldly tells us of his visions from 1950 about... the year 2000!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

6 January 2013

Aron Eisenberg b. 1969
Andrea Thompson b. 1960

Aron is best known as Nog on Deep Space Nine. His character was often cheerful, which must have been some effort, given how uncomfortable the make-up and prosthetics must have been.

I could have put up a picture of Andrea Thompson. Maybe next year. When she left acting and got that job on CNN, she didn't do herself any favors with her attitude.

1997: Spaceship E-89 is cruising the thirteenth planet of Star System 51

From Death Ship, a Twilight Zone episode written by Richard Matheson, first aired 7 February 1963.

Reality: We haven't sent a manned mission to anywhere but the moon yet, and interstellar travel would take a really long time. At the top speeds our spacecraft now travel, it would take over 3,000 years to travel one light year and the nearest other star is about 4 to 5 light years away.

(Note: Yes, that's Jack Klugman from The Odd Couple and Ross Martin from The Wild Wild West. The third guy is Fred Beir. His face didn't ring a bell for me, either. He bounced around as a guest star on TV shows for decades. That takes perseverance.)

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE!

It is as though I can hear the longing in my readers, a ghostly wail somehow wafting through the cables of the Internet.

Flying cars, professor... when will you give us flying cars?

Calm your spirits, travelers. Your desires will be fulfilled and very soon.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

5 January 2013

January Jones b. 1978
Clancy Brown b. 1959 

There will be a lot of birthdays of artists with a connection to fantasy and sci-fi celebrated here on the blog and actors are going to outnumber writers and directors because movies and TV shows hire more actors than directors or writers. As much as I love Clancy Brown's work, when it came to a picture of him or a picture of January Jones from X-Men: First Class, I did not have a tough time choosing.

Being a heterosexual male did have some bearing on my decision.

The date is 5 January, 1900.

H.G. Wells, known to his friends as George, makes his first trip INTO THE FUTURE in his time machine.

from The Time Machine, released 17 August 1960

I love predictions that give exact dates. This isn't exactly a prediction, since the movie is released in 1960 and the first scenes take place in 1900, but in any time travel movie, we are allowed the Dr. Who Rule, better known as:

Timey wimey wibbly wobbly.

Accuracy: Sorry, we didn't actually invent time travel in the Victorian era.

This movie will get another exact date prediction later in the year, on its release date of the 17th of August, to be exact. It really does look INTO THE FUTURE, at least from the vantage point of 1960, and it's a doozy of an apocalypse.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Man travels the depths of interstellar space... in 1997? Well, perhaps only in The Twilight Zone.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Friday, January 4, 2013

4 January 2013

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Underwater vehicles are pulled by whales

Predictor: French postcards from the 1900 Paris Exhibition

Accuracy: Not good. A lot of predictions of what the future should look like are going to get the label "Humans to nature: Be our bitch" Most of these predictions will also have the label "Nature to humans: BITCH, PLEASE".

But when you think of it, putting harnesses on whales and making them swim where we want to go isn't nearly as cruel as killing them for meat and oil we don't really need.

Explanation for the young people: There was a time in the distant past when porn was scarce and difficult to obtain. (No, really. You can look it up or maybe ask your grandpa.) Back in those days, "French postcards" meant "pictures of nekkid wimmens". But in fact not all French postcards were smutty. Some were made for people whose unquenchable thirst was not for the dirty pictures and tingly feelings down there, but instead for knowledge of the future and the tingly feelings IN THE BRAIN! 

Fridays will be Antique Postcard Day. Besides these French postcards from the 1900 Paris Exhibition, there are also German postcards from the same era predicting THE YEAR 2000 distributed by a chocolate maker.

What does chocolate have to do with the future? I have no idea.

Looking ahead one day... INTO THE FUTURE! Our first prediction with an exact date, a date important in the history of time travel.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

3 January 2013

In the year 2000!

Transistors and communication satellites will make telecommuting from Tahiti or Bali just as practical as working from London.  If worthwhile, any executive, administrative and physical skills could be made independent of distance.

Brain surgeons in Edinburgh will be able perform operations in New Zealand. There will be no commuting only communicating.

For this reason,  cities may not exist at all.

Travel only happens for leisure.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke

Year of prediction: 1964 on the BBC TV show Horizon. (You can see Part 1 and Part 2 on the You Tubes.)

Accuracy: Good old Arthur C. was never short on speculation about the near future, not unlike Robert A. Heinlein. He is right that telecommuting has become possible, he just missed that it hasn't replaced regular old commuting just yet. He breezes over a lot of difficulties with his prepositional phrase "if worthwhile". Cities still exist because cities make it easier for people to get the stuff they need to live and work.

If you want a clever sci-fi story, you can read Arthur C. Clarke. If you want to understand cities better, Jane Jacobs is a better source.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Friday is Antique Postcard Day! Yes, both French and German postcards will be our Friday fare for many months to come.

French postcards!  The kind men like!  Especially men not interested in looking at nekkid ladies, but instead forward looking men hungry for knowledge about... THE FUTURE!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2 January 2013


Isaac Asimov b. 1920 (or not) died 4/6/1992 (definitely)
(won 1973 Nebula and Hugo for The Gods Themselves)
(won 1983 Hugo for Foundation’s Edge)

Asimov's exact birthday is unknown, sometime in late 1919 or early 1920. This is what he looked like in 1965 before he grew those muttonchops that became his signature look. 

Currently, I am only listing the Hugo and Nebula awards for novels. As I continue my research, I'll include awards for short works as well. As you can read over on his Wikipedia page, Asimov's best known work is probably the short story Nightfall. His Three Laws of Robotics are also still widely quoted. You remember them.

1. What goes up must come down.
2. Spinning wheel got to go round.
3. Talkin' 'bout your troubles is a crying sin.

Wait. I may have those wrong. Let me get back to you.

In the year 2000!

Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins

Year of prediction:  1900 in The Ladies' Home Journal

Accuracy: Way off. The U.S. population did grow to about 300,000,000 by 2000, but we did not get any countries in Central America asking for admission and the great canal was dug in Panama, not Nicaragua. Watkins did not foresee the colonial age would peak and fade away.

Watkins made a set of 28 distinct predictions about the year 2000 in 1900. They were published in that great source of speculative fiction The Ladies' Home Journal. (?!?) Like all predictors worth their salt, he gets some stuff right and a lot of stuff wrong.  Still, his track record looking 100 years into THE FUTURE is significantly better than Heinlein's list of hunches about 2000 made in 1950. For the first half of this year and slightly beyond, Wednesday will be John Elfreth Watkins Day.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Arthur C. Clarke gets the first of his weekly moments in the spotlight, featuring his predictions for the Year 2000 on a 1964 British TV show.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!