Sunday, March 31, 2013

31 March 2013

Ewan McGregor b. 1971
Lucille Bliss b. 1916 died 8 November 2012

Lucille Bliss, who died last November, is probably the second most famous female voice actress ever, slightly behind the wonderful June Foray. Ms. Bliss is best known as the voice of Smurfette and Crusader Rabbit way back in the day, though my favorite work of hers is as Ms. Bitters on Invader ZIM, one of the best children's TV cartoons of this century.

Movies released
Ice Age: The Meltdown released, 2006

Life in Los Angeles... in 2013!

Prediction: Most of the housework will be done by robots and robotic pets will be commonplace.

Predictor: L.A. 2013, an article written by Nicole Yorkin in The Los Angeles Times Magazine, published 3 April 1988

Reality: Except for the Roomba, robot help really hasn't materialized. In the article, a country and western singing robot named Billy Rae is constantly screwing things up and annoying Alma, the woman of the house in Yorkin's story. And as for robotic pets, the Tamagotchi craze is really the closest we got to this and it didn't last.

The whole idea that we are rational actors economically doesn't always work, but eventually the concept of cost effectiveness does sink in.  Robots are good at some stuff, but the expense is high so that the cost only makes sense if they are going to do a LOT of work, which means they are still primarily on assembly lines.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We get another glimpse into the wonderful technological future as predicted by Popular Mechanics in the middle of last century.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

30 March 2013

Juliet Landau b. 1965
Robbie Coltrane b. 1950

Ms. Landau, daughter of Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, has worked with Tim Burton on genre films and played the eccentric vampire Drusilla on Buffy and Angel. Mr. Coltrane played Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.  Many happy returns to both.

Movies released
Spy Kids released, 2001

Over the next few months, there will be a lot more anniversaries of movie releases. I've set an arbitrary cut-off point of movies making at least $100 million, though I will break that rule for some famous failures and movies from before 1990 will not have to meet that standard.


Prediction: 1990: The “Project Gulliver” automated Mars Rovers land on Mars

Predictor: Ringworld: The Game published 1984

Reality: The first Mars rover landed after this game comes out is Sojourner in 1997.

Our current crop of regular predictors didn't make infinitely many statements, so all of them will eventually come to an end. Here is a new face to get used to, Larry Niven.  Niven made a lot of predictions with dates attached, many about space exploration. Technically, he did not write Ringworld: The Game, but it is certainly written with respect shown to his timeline of our progress to other planets and finally to exploring outside our solar system.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

For the next few weeks, the Sunday slot will belong to the predictions from 1988 published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine about the exciting world of... 2013! Tomorrow: robots!  Lots and lots of robots!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, March 29, 2013

29 March 2013

Lucy Lawless b. 1968
Marina Sirtis b. 1955

That's a whole lot of pretty to choose from. This year I'll go with Xena, next year with Counselor Troi. Ms. Lawless is also known to genre fans from her work on Battlestar Galactica.


Never To Be Forgotten

A new label is added today to mark the passing of Richard Griffiths, 65, whose death was announced this morning, caused by complications after heart surgery.

He is best known to fantasy fans as the awful Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series. He was also in Hugo, the Martin Scorsese fantasy film from 2011 and played King George in Pirates of the Caribbean - On Stranger Tides from the same year. He was in a lot of other quality films as well. I loved his work in A Private Function, a comedy from 1984 starring Michael Palin and Maggie Smith.

Ever since I was a kid I have followed the obituaries. Some may consider it a morbid hobby and I won't disagree vehemently, but for me it's often a chance to bring back fond memories about someone I haven't thought about for a while.

Best wishes to the family and friends of Richard Griffiths, from a fan. He is never to be forgotten.

Prediction: In 1968, Armed with advanced alien technology, Gary Seven and his cat Isis appear on earth to avert World War III.

Source: Assignment:Earth, the last episode of season two of Star Trek, aired 29 March 1968

Reality: Damn. That's 45 years ago.  This wins today's contest for being the first reminder of the day that I am really old.

Fans of the original series will recall that this was meant to be a pilot for another Gene Roddenberry sci-fi show, but it didn't take off. (He was having a hard enough time convincing them there should be a third year of Star Trek.) Robert Lansing played the mysterious Mr. Seven, Teri Garr played his confused but plucky sidekick/secretary Roberta Lincoln and the cat Isis can turn into a human, played by the fabulous babe Victoria Vetri, who was Playmate of the Year in 1968.

Forty five years ago.  Damn, I'm old.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We get our first prediction of many from sci-fi writer Larry Niven, who like Heinlein wrote a lot of stories with specific dates, many of which have already passed.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

28 March 2013

Nick Frost b. 1972
Lara Flynn Boyle b. 1970
Brett Ratner b. 1969

Frost has done several genre projects, the best known in the U.S. is the zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead with Simon Pegg. Ratner directed X-Men:The Last Stand.

I chose Ms. Boyle for The Picture Position using the pretty girl rule, but chose a picture of her from the Twin Peaks era, before she went on a strange binge of plastic surgery and extreme dieting. It was during that era she was in her most famous genre role in Men In Black 2.

Prediction: In 2001, the trip from Earth to Saturn takes about seven months.

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

Reality:  That's really fast. In Clarke's story, it's a manned craft that makes the trip at that speed and we have only sent unmanned spacecraft anywhere farther away than the Moon. The ESA probe Cassini-Huygens took about seven years to get from Earth to Saturn.

Looking online, the fastest speeds for any manned spaceship so far was 25,000 mph (~40,000 kph) for Apollo 10 on its trip to the Moon. This would be closer to 150,000 mph or 240,000 kph.

This isn't just a minor quibble. How fast a spaceship can travel makes an enormous difference in how far it can travel. Even though space is very empty, any stray pebble hitting a ship at these speeds could a lot of damage. Until we have something like the force fields used in Star Trek, we can't possibly consider moving at speeds approaching the speed of light, and if we can't go about that fast, traveling outside our solar system is out of the question.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We interrupt our usual Antique Postcard Day presentations on Fridays for a visit from a mysterious stranger with advanced alien technology who comes to Earth hoping to save us from destroying ourselves.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

27 March 2013

Nathan Fillion b. 1971
Adrian Rawlins b. 1958

Nathan get to be Picture Boy today. His best known genre work is all in the Whedonverse, a bad guy on Buffy, Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's SingAlong Blog and of course Captain Mal Reynolds on the TV show Firefly and the movie Serenity.

Mr. Rawlins plays Harry Potter's father James in the movies.

In the year 2000!

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

Predictions (Reality):The milkweed will have been developed into a rubber plant. Cheap native rubber will be harvested by machinery all over this country. (Both the Germans and the American tried during WW II. Neither succeeded.)

Plants will be made proof against disease microbes just as readily as man is to-day against smallpox. (This has taken place.)

The soil will be kept enriched by plants which take their nutrition from the air and give fertility to the earth. (Epiphyte plants existed even in Watkins' day.)

Sugar cane will produce twice as much sugar as the sugar beet now does. Cane will once more be the chief source of our sugar supply. (There are more acres of sugar beets vs. cane in the U.S., but both are now outstripped in the sweetener market by high fructose corn syrup, an invention from the second half of the 20th Century.)

Strawberries and cranberries will be grown upon tall bushes.  (Not so much. These plants still hug the ground.)

Melons, cherries, grapes, plums, apples, pears, peaches and all berries will be seedless. (Seedless melons, apples and grapes exist, as do seedless oranges. Cherries, peaches and plums have pits. Harder to get rid of pits.)

Figs will be cultivated over the entire United States. (The best sources say the West Coast, Utah and Texas.)

Not the best hit to miss ratio for our pal John Elfreth this week. Some agricultural problems are harder to crack than others.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Thursday is Arthur C. Clarke's turn, where he predicts the speeds of spaceships in the early 21st Century.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bonus post as a link to TOMORROW'S COMIC STRIP.

Technically, this is the Candorville from TOMORROW'S PAPER, so it belongs on this blog more ways than I can count, but I give you a link instead of messing with his copyright

26 March 2013

Keira Knightley b. 1985
Francis Lawrence b. 1971
Ed Wasser b. 1964
Leonard Nimoy b. 1931

Okay! Regular readers will know that the first picture slot often belongs to the cutest girl on the list, but this is a sci-fi blog and Really Cute does not trump Mr. Spock. Moreover, Ms. Knightley's most famous role in a genre film is as the decoy queen in The Phantom Menace, a movie many fans are still trying to forget to this day.

As for the other names on the list, Mr. Lawrence directed I Am Legend and Mr. Wasser was Morden on Babylon 5, a personal favorite role of mine.

Mr. Nimoy often tweets LLAP. If you don't know what that stands for, just think about it for a few seconds. My only further comment on it is:

Back atcha, buddy!

Movies released
How to Train Your Dragon released, 2010

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: All aircraft will be controlled by a giant radar net run on a continent-wide basis by a multiple electronic "brain."

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950

Reality:  That's a pretty good shorthand explanation of the air traffic control system.  Full points for this one, Mr. Heinlein.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Wednesday is John Elfreth Watkins day, and this week we will look at what he said about agriculture that did not involve Big Fruit.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, March 25, 2013

25 March 2013


D.C. Fontana b. 1939

Many happy returns to the writer best known for her work on Star Trek.
Prediction: Much of Florida could be underwater if the oceans rose 15 to 25 feet by the mid 21st Century.

Predictor: S.H. Schneider and R. Chen in 1980, reprinted in The OMNI Future Almanac in 1982

Reality: We are now about halfway between 1980 and 2050 and the oceans haven't shown anything like this kind of increase yet. If you read my math blog, you'll know I have been looking at climate data for about a month now and I've come to three conclusions.

1. The climate is changing, with most of the planet warming, some of it much faster than the rest, notably in the polar regions.
2. Humans are making things worse.
3. The worst case scenario stuff about increases in sea level haven't taken place yet and it's not given that they will in our lifetimes. Knowing what little I do about complex systems, it's not easy to predict how things will fall apart due to a changing climate.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tuesday is Robert A. Heinlein day, and I'm in a good mood so I'll find something from Sensible Bob.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

24 March 2013

Keisha Castle-Hughes b. 1990
Alyson Hannigan b. 1974

Ms. Castle-Hughes, so good in Whale Rider (and so adorable at the Oscars that year) was also the Queen of Naboo in Star Wars: Episode III. But when it comes to the genre, she is not and never will be Willow Rosenberg.

So it is written and so it shall be.

Prediction:The demographics of Los Angeles 2013

Predictor: Southern California Association of Governments in 1988

Source: L.A. 2013, printed in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, 3 April 1988

Prediction (reality)
18.3 million (18.1 million)
1/15 of U.S. pop. (1/17 of U.S. pop.)

This is a pretty good guess.

41% White (actual 29.4%)
39.5% Latino (48.5%)
10.2% Black (9.8%)
9.3% Asian (10.7%) 

This is a pretty bad guess. Not understanding birth rate differentials is the cause.

Median Age
36.3 (33.8)

Another pretty bad guess. When the guess was made, the median was around 29. If you have the birth rate fairly close and the death rate as well, a competent mathematician would not miss by this much.

What they really got right: Using Syd Mead as the illustrator. If you like your future smooth and shiny, Syd Mead is the go-to guy and he has been for decades.

If you don't like your future smooth and shiny... why are you reading this blog in the first place?

Sorry. Don't want to chase away readers, but the question had to be asked.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

My favorite three words to type on a Monday... OMNI Future Almanac!
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

23 March 2013

Michelle Monaghan b. 1976
Kim Stanley Robinson b. 1952
(won the 1993 Nebula for Red Mars)
(won the 1994 Hugo for Green Mars)
(won the 1997 Nebula for Blue Mars)
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough b. 1947 (won the 1990 Nebula for The Healer’s War)

Movies released
The Hunger Games released 2012

Ms. Monaghan's best known work in a genre film is 2011 Source Code.

Prediction: 2013: The President’s daughter steals the launch codes for a doomsday weapon and is taken to Los Angeles Island, now a concentration camp for those who do not follow the laws of the theocracy of the United States.

Predictor: Escape From L.A. 1996

Reality: There hasn't been an earthquake that turned Los Angeles into an island, the United States is not a theocracy, we aren't sending citizens off to concentration camps.

But on the plus side, the president does have a daughter. That part of the prediction is just uncanny.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Some people in 1988 actually thought Los Angeles would NOT be a post-apocalyptic hellhole. Let's see if they can do better than John Carpenter.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, March 22, 2013

22 March 2013

Matthew Modine b. 1959
William Shatner b. 1931

Mr. Modine has done a lot of work, very little of it in genre films, but he was in The Dark Knight Rises. Mr. Shatner, of course, is best remembered for his work on T.J. Hooker.

I kid. I'm a kidder.

Many happy returns to both gentlemen.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Humans living underwater will "fish" for seabirds, setting bait on the surface of the water and then dragging the creatures down until they suffocate.

Predictor: French postcards published in 1900

Reality: We are not living underwater for the most part, what with our lungs being built to extract oxygen for the air instead of the water. As for fishing for seabirds, the hook in the food would have to pierce through the bird's bill, not an easy task. More than that, if this actually worked it would be an extremely cruel way to kill these poor creatures, dragging them underwater until they drown.

Of course, it is just as cruel to kill a fish using similar methods. In fishing's defense, let me say that lots of fish make mighty good eating. I've read enough Patrick O'Brian novels to know that except for mutton birds, most seabirds are way too lean and stringy and not worth killing for food.

All of this is the roundabout way of saying we have another example of the French being jerks.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We got some Snake Plissken last weekend and now we are going back for seconds, this time escaping from Los Angeles instead of New York.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

21 March 2013

Gary Oldman b. 1958  

Mr. Oldman has appeared in many quality films over the years, and is known best to genre fans for his work in Harry Potter and the Batman series. Many happy returns.

Prediction: 1980s: Minsky and Good demonstrate neural networks could be generated automatically in accordance with an arbitrary learning process, producing “artificial brains”.

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

Reality:  Clarke realizes HAL is not just a simple evolution of small improvements over three decades from when he wrote the screenplay and it novelization to the end of the century, so he throws in a little expository jargon and gives it a date (yay!). In reality, very little that goes into a computer is "generated automatically". Programming is still time intensive and the programmers and designers still have to dot every j and cross every x by hand.

Still, Clarke is one of the few people in SF who had any idea of how much computers would improve and how quickly they would become part of everyday life. The big leap forward was in the 1970s when microprocessors can put "a computer on a chip", and since then, the hardware has gotten smaller and faster and cheaper, and because of all three improvements, computer chips can be found in a remarkable number of products today.

Still, the difference between HAL and a computer that can win at Jeopardy! is a huge chasm and I have no idea how it's going to be crossed.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Fridays is Antique Postcard Day and it's the turn for the French. This often means people from the future acting like jerks and tomorrow is no exception.
Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

20 March 2013

David Thewlis b. 1963
Chris Wedge b, 1957 (director, Ice Age)
John De Lancie b. 1948

Damn. The guy who played Q is 65. This wins the daily contest for "What's the first thing today that will make me feel really old?"

Many happy returns, Mr. De Lancie. You were really good on Breaking Bad as well.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: Peas as Large as Beets.
Peas and beans will be as large as beets are to-day.
Strawberries as Large as Apples will be eaten by our great-great-grandchildren for their Christmas dinners a hundred years hence. Raspberries and blackberries will be as large.
One will suffice for the fruit course of each person.
Cranberries, gooseberries and currants will be as large as oranges. One cantaloupe will supply an entire family.
Roses will be as large as cabbage heads.
Violets will grow to the size of orchids.
A pansy will be as large in diameter as a sunflower.
A century ago the pansy measured but half an inch across its face.

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

Reality: Hmm. Okay, this is disturbing. My historical man crush seems to have a thing for Big Fruit.

Not that I'm judging.  Longtime readers of my original blog are fully aware that I am the last person who should judge these sorts of things.

Still, that's a whole lotta Big Fruit. Big Flowers, too.

I talked to my historian friend Jodi who put this in perspective. Back in the late nineteenth century, Luther Burbank and George Washington Carver were among the Heroic Scientists bringing us a better tomorrow. Larger plants and longer growing seasons were a big part of the exciting innovations of the day and as usual, Watkins isn't making stuff up out of whole cloth but extrapolating the recent developments of his era one hundred years into the future.

These examples are taken from three separate predictions Watkins made about agriculture. I'll publish the rest of the agricultural predictions next week, the ones that aren't fixated on largeness.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Thursdays belong to Arthur C. Clarke, this time taking a date from his fiction instead of his published predictions.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

19 March 2013

Connor Trinneer b. 1969

Many happy returns to Mr. Trinneer, whose best known work is on Enterprise and Stargate, two sci-fi shows I never got in the habit of watching.

1951: Dr. Hugo Pinero puts $10,000 in escrow to pay the first person living past Pinero’s predicted date for that person’s death.

Predictor: Life-Line, by Robert A. Heinlein, published 1939

Reality: To be fair to Ridiculous Bob, this is very early in his career. Some people in "Hard SF" made an effort to really understand science, but Heinlein wasn't one of them. He is more like someone skimming through a textbook and thinking "Time! It's different from what we used to think!  What if it worked in this cool way?"

But it doesn't, Bob, and your story just is like something out of the "gypsy curse" genre made allegedly plausible with impossible science.

 Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

The three words I do not tire of typing... John Elfreth Watkins.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, March 18, 2013

18 March 2013

Richard Biggs b. 1960 died 22 May 2004
Steve Kloves b. 1960
Brad Dourif b. 1950
Jack B. Sowards b. 1929 died 7/8/2007

The names today aren't exactly household, so a quick explanation. Steve Kloves wrote several of the Harry Potter screenplays, Brad Dourif is an actor best known for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Deadwood, but shows up in genre films and TV including Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Babylon 5 and Dune. Jack B. Sowards wrote The Wrath of Khan.

The photo position goes to Richard Biggs, one of WAY too many regulars on Babylon 5 who is already dead, including Jeff Conaway and Andreas Katsulas. A very unlucky show, if you ask me.

Prediction: Fifty years hence, the milk bottle will probably be a museum relic, along with the ice wagon, the coal shovel and the ash can, and out milk and butter will be derived from kerosene instead of cows, while most of our other food will be served in concentrated or pill form.

Predictor: Roger W, Babson, internationally known statistician, 1928 in Popular Mechanics

Reality: OMG! Food in pill form! Along with moving sidewalks and flying cars, food in pill form is the third part of The Holy Trinity of Antique Futurism.

To be fair to Professor Babson, milk bottles and ice wagons were completely antiquated by 1978, and coal shovels and ash cans were not part of most people's homes, though coal burning was and is still part of our energy consumption, the more's the pity.

Illustration: The great Virgil Finlay created the magazine cover I use as today's visual aid. It's a cute idea that the isolated astronaut has covered up the pin-ups with pictures of chicken, beer and steak. It's also a little bit of a shame, because Finlay's fabulous babes are comparable to the best work of Vargas and Frazetta.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Tuesday belongs to Robert A. Heinlein. Will it be Sensible Bob or Ridiculous Bob? Even I'm not sure yet, but it's always fun to find out.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

17 March 2013

Mark Boone Junior b. 1955
William Gibson b. 1948 (won 1985 Hugo and Nebula for Neuromancer)

Many happy returns to Mr. Gibson. I remember people made a big deal out of the fact he didn't use a word processor back in the 1980s and accused him of being a Luddite. He's on Twitter now, so I guess he got over it.

Prediction: 1997: Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists and crashes in the penal colony of Manhattan Island. The president escapes, but must be rescued by Snake Plissken.

Predictor: Escape From New York, 1981

Reality: Science fiction has a steady undercurrent of the idea that cities are hellholes. John Carpenter said that Watergate was a major influence on his writing of Escape From New York, that presidential malfeasance would be the seed of a massive crime wave and rise in incarceration.

I like cities. Crime is not out of control, though our justice system might be. In any case, the breakdown of society hasn't happened just yet.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Every alternate Monday belongs to the Popular Mechanics predictions, and their stuff is about as far away from the apocalypse as you can get. The future is shiny and cool and usually convenient for folks like you and me.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

16 March 2013

Alan Tudyk b. 1971

"Ah, curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"

If this line is not known to you, keep that information to yourself, because I always thought you were cool.

(And still do. You're reading this, arent you?)

Prediction: 1978: The United Kingdom will have a base on the moon, possibly Mars.

Predictor: Five Million Miles to Earth released 1968.

Reality: Let's be honest. The British are adorable.  You just want to pinch their cheeks and say "Who used to be the earth's mightiest empire? 

Oh, who who was it? 


And then they complain and whine and fall asleep, even more adorable than ever.

My thanks to Tony Hurd for finding the clip.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

From the mind of John Carpenter... In a world...

Really, do I have to finish this tease? If it's from the mind of John Carpenter, the world has gone to shit.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, March 15, 2013

15 March 2013

Kellan Lutz b.1985

Mr. Lutz has been in the Twilight films, which kind of counts as genre. Looking for pictures of him online, it seems that getting cast in Twilight made it more difficult for him to advance in what would have been a promising career in gay porn.


In the year 2000!

Prediction: Fashionable people will have their own hot air balloons, perfect for those weekend outings.

Predictor: Hildebrands German Chocolate postcards.

Reality: This is very close to a flying car, and this blog has a policy about avoiding discussions of reality when flying cars are concerned.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! The future of warfare is explained to stuffy scientist Alan Quatermass.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

14 March 2013

Jamie Bell b. 1986
Mercedes McNab b. 1980
Michael Caine b. 1933

Once again, I make the heterosexual male choice for the birthday picture of the cute girl. Ms. McNab is best known as Harmony on Buffy and Angel. She did some very funny stuff on those shows.

Jamie Bell is best known for Billy Elliot, but he was also in in King Kong. Michael Caine has only a few genre films, notably Children of Men and Alfred in the most recent Batman movies.

Prediction: We will find no life on other planets in our solar system, except possibly Mars.

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

Reality: Well, we haven't done as much exploration as the sci-fi writers expected by now, but the temperatures on the planets other than Earth and Mars don't allow for water, either only ice or only vapor. It's possible life exists without water in liquid form, but it would have to be radically different from anything we've ever seen and its environment would be toxic for us and vice versa.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! This Friday it's the turn for the 1900 German chocolate company's predictions about life ... in the Year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

13 March 2013

Harry Melling b. 1989
Tim Story b. 1970
Joe Johnston b. 1950
William H. Macy b. 1950
Roger Zelazny b. 1937 died 6/14/1995
(won 1966 Hugo for … And Call Me Conrad)
(won 1968 Hugo for Lord of Light)

We've got actors and directors on the birthday list today. Melling was in the Harry Potter series, Story and Johnston are on the other side of the camera. Macy doesn't have a lot of work in genre films, but he was in the third Jurassic Park.

But I gave the picture to Zelazny, who won Hugos for two of his novels.

In the Year 2000!

Prediction: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams. The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.

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

Reality: Yeah, well... It pains me somewhat when Watkins swings and misses. As regular readers must already know, I have a man crush on old John Elfreth. Sometimes I even imagine he had a lovely speaking voice.

To be fair to him, while these pest insects still exist, the problem is much smaller than it was back in 1900. The biggest goof here is "the extermination of the horse". He was right that they were on their way out as essential beasts of burden, but even the human race that had wiped out the passenger pigeon and Steller's sea cow wouldn't be so callous as to kill all the horses. I mean, how would we have that cute Budweiser ad if we killed all the Clydesdales?

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

Thursday means Arthur C. Clarke, and tomorrow he gets one right when predicting what we'll know... in the Year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

12 March 2013

Jaimie Alexander b. 1984
Aaron Eckhart b. 1968

Yet another Whole Lotta Pretty day in the birthdays, and yet another heterosexual male choice on my part for the lead photo. Ms. Alexander's best known work in genre is as the goddess Sif in Thor.

The puppy looks a little pre-occupied. Maybe he just saw a squirrel.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Your personal telephone will be small enough to carry in your handbag. Your house telephone will record messages, answer simple inquiries, and transmit vision. [In 1980 he observes that the likelihood that phones tied into home computers will accomplish the second sentence, and will eventually enable 3-dimensional holovision and stereo speech.]

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein in 1950 and 1980

Reality: Old Sensible Bob makes a comeback this week, especially the 1950 version. Predicting miniaturization in 1950 takes some doing. His 1980 "improvements" are more along the lines of Ridiculous Bob, as hologram technology is really hard and stereo speech is both expensive and close to useless in a cell phone, since the two speakers would be inches apart.

Regular readers will realize I don't love Grumpy Old Bob, but I do recognize that he is generally an optimist, except for his 1947 essay where he was sure Hap Arnold was right and no one would listen and WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE! Regular correspondent Leo Lincourt pointed out that Heinlein went through a nasty divorce in the late 1940s from a woman who was an alcoholic, and after getting disentangled his writing became much more optimistic.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Wednesday is John Elfreth Watkins Day, that mid-week pick me up all serious students of antique futurism anticipate eagerly.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, March 11, 2013

11 March 2013

Anton Yelchin b. 1989
Johnny Knoxville b. 1971
Robots released 2005

Mr. Yelchin's best known role in the genre is as Chekov in the reboot of Star Trek.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Top 10 most populous cities

Predictor: OMNI Future Almanac

Prediction vs. Reality:

Regular readers will know that the Monday slot for predictions is shared between the Popular Mechanics' Wonderful Future That Never Was and the 1982 treasure trove The OMNI Future Almanac. As Tyrion Lannister might say, "There's the pretty one, and then there's the clever one." It's not so much that OMNI gets everything right - not everybody can be John Elfreth Watkins -  but it is absolutely chock full of predictions with dates, the daily bread of this blog.

Here are their predictions of the ten most populous cities, with the real position and population in parentheses, along with a percentage by which they missed the population. Their source for these numbers was a U.N. report from 1979.

1. Mexico City 31 million (real position: #1 real pop.: 26.3 mil, off by 18%)
2. Sao Paulo 25.8 million (real position: #2 real pop.: 24 mil, off by 8%)
3. Tokyo-Yokohama (real position: #3 real pop.: 17.1 mil, off by 42%)

A break for a comment. They got the top three cities in correct order, a nice piece of work looking 17 years forward. But you will notice they over shoot a lot of predictions of how many people there would be. That trend continues.

4. Greater New York City 22.8 million (real position: #6 real pop.: 15.5 mil, off by 47%)
5. Shanghai 22.7 million (real position: #8 real pop.: 13.5 mil, off by 68%)
6 Beijing 19.9 million (real position: #21 real pop.: 10.8 mil., off by 84%)

The first major oopsie. The almanac gives the correct populations and positions in 1980, predicts some growth for NYC and massive growth for Beijing. In reality, New York's population shrunk by about 5 million and Beijing hardly grew at all.

7. Rio de Janiero 19 million (real position: #9 real pop.: 13.3 mil, off by 43%)
8. Greater Bombay (Mumbai) 17.1 million (real position: #5 real pop.: 16 mil, off by 7%)
9. Calcutta (Kolkatta) 16.7 million (real position: #4 real pop.: 16.6 mil, off by 1%)
10. Djakarta 16.6 million (real position: #13 real pop.: 13.3%, off by 30%)

Okay, they got 8 of 10 cities right, which would get a B in most classes. The two top ten cities they missed were #7 Seoul at 13.5 million and #10 Delhi at 13.3 million. The place where the grade might get marked down is the huge discrepancy in total population of these cities, off by 50 million total, 30% higher overall. The overestimation of growth rates would look even worse.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! It's Heinlein's turn, and since I used something from his fiction last week, I'll use a prediction from one of his many forecast essays. Will that mean it will be less ridiculous? Signs point to no.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

10 March 2013

Olivia Wilde b. 1984
Jon Hamm b. 1971
Scott Frank b. 1960 (writer, Minority Report)

That's a whole lot of pretty for one day. I use the 1st Rule of Heterosexual Male Blogging and go with Ms. Wilde over Mr. Hamm, using a picture of her from her best known genre film, Tron Legacy. A lot of other pictures of her from that film are in the pose I call "Are you staring at my butt, and if not, why not?", so I will use this more modest photo accenting her pretty face and punky haircut.  

Prediction: 2007: World War IV is fought with nuclear weapons; it lasts five days.

Predictor: Harlan Ellison from A Boy and his Dog, 1969

Reality: Of course, this is all just prelude to the post apocalyptic hellscape that Don Johnson (yes, that Don Johnson) and his very clever pup have to survive. The story was written in 1969, the movie came out in 1975.

Note: For a long haired dog in a post-apocalyptic desert hellscape, he is very well groomed. Just sayin'.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! It is once again the turn for the OMNI Future Almanac, which is my second favorite source material after the inimitable John Elfreth Watkins.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

9 March 2013

Pat Murphy b. 1955 (won 1988 Nebula for The Falling Woman)  

Movies released (escaped)
John Carter escaped 2012

My usual cut-off point is for a movie to make $100 million in domestic box office and John Carter missed that BY A LOT, but I think it's important to remember the genre is not bomb proof.

Prediction: March 1983: The Vatican Armistice ends World War III

Predictor:  A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison, 1969

Reality: To be fair to Mr. Ellison, this is an alternate reality he dreamed up where JFK survives Dallas and the Cold War gets completely out of hand. Trust Harlan to turn a liberal icon into a nightmare scenario.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Cranky young Harlan Ellison tells us World War IV isn't quite as easy to end as World War III.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, March 8, 2013

8 March 2013

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Barber shops will be completely mechanized.

Predictor: The French postcards from 1900

Reality: A machine with no viewing apparatus moving a straight razor around my face and neck? Oh, just shut up and take my money!

This is so dumb I have to think it possible someone was being ironic.

Looking TWO WHOLE DAYS ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! This weekend, we get World War III and World War IV, both of them already over by now and the survivors stuck in a weird apocalypse, brought to us by Harlan Ellison.

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

7 March 2013

Peter Sarsgaard b. 1971
Matthew Vaughn b. 1971
Donna Murphy b. 1959
Elizabeth Moon b. 1945 (won 2004 Nebula for The Speed of Dark)

We have a same year, same day pair. Sarsgaard is an actor whose best known work in the genre is as the villain in the unfortunate Green Lantern from 2011, while Vaughn is a writer and director, notably of X-Men:First Class and Kick-Ass. 

But being a guy, I chose the picture of Donna Murphy from Star Trek: Insurrection, where she played Picard's love interest.


Prediction: 2001: The United States and the Soviet Union form an alliance to counteract the growing power of the Chinese.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in the 1968 book adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey

Reality: By 2001, the Soviets went back to being the Russians, and while the U.S. isn't exactly allies with either, we are much closer to the Chinese, mostly because we owe them a lot of money.

In 1968, it wasn't clear how big a deal the Chinese would become, so ACC gets some credit for that.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Yet another French postcard, the kind men like. And women like, too, if they want to know what life will be like... IN THE YEAR 2000!
 Join us then... IN THE FUTURE! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

6 March 2013

Allison Hayes b. 1930 died 27 Feb. 1977

My thanks to reader gbaji for pointing out this name I missed. Miss Hayes is best known as the star of the original 1957 version of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, an awful film with one of the most famous and iconic posters of all time.

In the year 2000!

Prediction #1: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Even to-day photographs are being telegraphed over short distances. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.

Prediction #2: Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. The instrument bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a distant battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze, and thus the lips of a remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.

Predictor: John Elfreth Watkins, writing in a 1900 issue of The Ladies' Home Journal

Reality:  Damn, this guy is good. He's writing from a time before Edison has made The Great Train Robbery but slightly after Marconi's first successful experiments. All he guesses correctly are TV, transmission of color photos, (nearly) instantaneous worldwide news.

Of course, we denizens of Watkins' wonderful predicted future turned this stuff into the cable news industry. That's on us, not him.

Watkins made only about two dozen predictions. He gets things wrong, but when he is accurate, it's almost eerie.  I'm going to miss him when I write his last one.  I'll probably bring him back next year maybe like once a month.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! Thursday belongs to Arthur C. Clarke, who predicts in the 1960s some strange alliances in the year 2001.
 Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!