Friday, May 31, 2013

31 May 2013

Colin Farrell b. 1976

Mr. Farrell has made a lot of non-genre films, but the best known work he has done in the field would include Daredevil, Minority Report and the remake of Total Recall. The blog wishes him many happy returns of the day.

Prediction:1980: From a secret base hidden under a film studio, SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization) battles hostile aliens from a dying world.

Predictor: UFO, a 1970 British TV series produced by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

Reality: Reality? C'mon, I already typed "Gerry and Sylvia Anderson". Reality don't enter into it, mate!

Big Ugly Stick removed from its protective casing: Okay, that's more like it.

Browsing around the Internet, there appear to be people still fond of this stinky cheese. If Irwin Allen was Star Trek's main competition when it started, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were first major competitors just after, but they were constricted by tiny budgets and weak writing. The Andersons did learn a few lessons from Star Trek.

1. Put the women in outfits that are very tight or very skimpy, preferably both.
1a. Just to be fair, put some of the guys in outfits that are best described as "package forward".
2. There is no such thing as a wig that is "too ridiculous".
3. No amount of make-up can be considered "over the top".
4. Silver jumpsuits! Nothing says the future like silver jumpsuits!

Add to all this a level of smoking, drinking and sexual harassment at work that makes Mad Men look like a model of decorum and you start to get an idea why UFO was truly awful.

Star Trek had budget problems as well, but their problems were more along the lines of splurging too much on one episode and forcing the writers to keep all the action on the ship for a few episodes. Another option was to come up with scripts that could let them use costumes and sets that were easily borrowed from other Paramount productions, hence the Planet O' Nazis or Planet O' Gangsters or Planet O' Wyatt Earp Dream Sequence episodes.

UFO never splurged. The show looked cheap ass from beginning to end. Special effects looked almost exactly the same as the marionette shows they produced in the sixties, like Thunderbirds are Go! and Fireball XL-5. They made an effort to upgrade the moon base set late in the series, but the show was canceled after a single season and those sets were re-used in the next cheesy Gerry and Sylvia vehicle, Space:1999.

Several online sources make fun of the "two alien" rule. The aliens had special costumes and the budget was so tight they could only afford two of them, so there were never more than two aliens in a shot, even if there were more than two aliens in the script.

It's easy to make fun of the original Star Trek series as well, but it's a matter of degree. Compared to Irwin Allen and Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, Gene Roddenberry looks like Ibsen compared to a Punch and Judy show.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Again our regular weekly pattern is broken by an exact date, a post-apocalyptic vision that is almost livable. Maybe we should call it Apocalyse Lite.

 Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

30 May 2013


Duncan Jones b. 1971
Mark Sheppard b. 1964
Colm Meaney b. 1953
Michael Piller b. 1948 died 11/1/2005

Jones is a director, Source Code and Moon his best known genre work. Sheppard is an actor and played recurring roles on Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse.  Piller did a lot of writing for the Star Trek franchise and Meaney gets the picture slot for being the best known of all these guys.

Condolences to the family and friends of Piller, who died so young and many happy returns of the day to Jones, Sheppard and Meaney.

Prediction: 30 May 1887: Julian West falls into a coma, only to waken in the year 2000

Predictor: Edward Bellamy, in his 1888 novel Looking Backward:2000-1887

Reality: Unlike Rip Van Winkle who awakens with a long beard, West goes into a kind of suspended animation and wakes with no atrophy or aging whatsoever. If you want to know why this is so, I'll put it in the comments since it's technically a spoiler.

I waited until this day to mention Bellamy because it was the first exact date in his book. It is a hugely influential work and we will soon have predictions from books that were considered "answer novels" to this from several writers. Both Jack London and H.G. Wells acknowledge being influenced by Bellamy and several of the predictions of John Elfreth Watkins sound very much like descriptions from Bellamy's writing. Likewise, some pictures from the French and German postcards depict ideas found in this novel.

Without giving too much away, Bellamy envisions a socialist utopia but really does not discuss any struggles that would have had to take place to bring this paradise about. Almost all books influenced by his make the understandable artistic decision of actually having a plot, something Looking Backward lacks. We will actual predictions from the book later in the year.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

We interrupt our regular Friday postcards with two names that have been known to make grown men shudder and wince in pain... Gerry and Sylvia Anderson!

You thought you could avoid them, that they were gone forever, didn't you? Foolish human.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Never to be Forgotten:
Jack Vance 1916-2013

Jack Vance, a prolific writer of science fiction, fantasy and mystery, has died at the age of 96. He was not well known outside the small core of dedicated science fiction readers and none of his works have been turned into major motion pictures or long running TV series. His novel Bad Ronald was the basis of a not particularly faithful adaptation that aired on ABC in 1974. Still, other writers of the genre were happy to be counted among his fans, including George R.R. Martin and Frank Herbert. Herbert and Vance, both locals of the San Francisco Bay Area, were close friends and owned a houseboat together.

Looking around at tributes on the net, some of his fans say the best place for a newcomer to start reading Vance is his Hugo and Nebula winning short novel The Last Castle, published in 1966.

These days, someone who has a success in science fiction or fantasy can become rich beyond the dreams of avarice (or at least my dreams of avarice), but it's important we pay tribute to those who worked so hard with no promise of success, who wrote for a living because they loved it and couldn't think of anything they would rather do.

Today, three days after he died, we pay tribute to Jack Vance. May he never be forgotten.

29 May 2013

Sebastian Shaw b. 1905 died 23 December 1994
Adam Brown b. 1980

Not particularly well known names on the birthday list today. Shaw was the actor who played Darth Vader unmasked in Return of the Jedi and then played the ghost of Anikin in the last scenes of Return of the Jedi. In the 2004 re-mastered edition - or as I prefer to call it, the "re-ruined edition" - Hayden Christensen plays the ghost of Anikin, just so the young people won't be confused.

Adam Brown plays Ori the dwarf in The Hobbit.

Up released 2009

I have to say that with all the special effects extravaganzas that bombard us from the screen, Pixar has generally done a very good job of keeping the story lines at the level of human interest and character development, making them some of the most watchable...


(On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog.)  

In the year 2000!

Prediction:  Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the bath. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to city houses in the same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.

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

Reality: Watkins misses that the hot and cool air spigots will be machines run by electricity or gas and so a central plant is unnecessary, but other than that, once again he is on the money.

Comparing Watkins to the later predictors isn't exactly fair, but it's like Heinlein and Clarke are shooting from the free throw line and Watkins is out in three point territory, shooting a better percentage and making the sci-fi writers look awfully damn sad.

 I wonder if the later writers even knew about Watkins. After all, they didn't have a resource like the Internet and they probably wouldn't think to look for futurist speculation in The Ladies' Home Journal.  He wrote no fictional stories I can find, and his last day job was as a curator at the Smithsonian, his best known work as part of the team that restored the John Bull steam locomotive.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

While later speculative fiction writers might never have heard of Watkins, it is almost certain that Watkins, Heinlein, Clarke and H.G. Wells and all the rest did know about the guy who gets introduced tomorrow. For on the 30th of May, 2000, this important writer's hero (and alter ego) Julian West awakens from a strange coma which began in 1887.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

28 May 2013

Alexa Davalos b. 1982
Glenn Quinn b. 1970 died 3 December 2002

Both Ms. Davalos and Mr. Quinn are best know for their roles on the Joss Whedon show Angel. Ms. Davalos played Gwen Raiden, a mutant with an electric shock touch and Mr. Quinn was a first season regular as Doyle, a demon with psychic abilities.

When you actually type out a sentence explaining things, it sounds like the show had to be incredibly cheesy, but it was actually well written.

And Ms. Davalos gets the Picture Slot because, well, she's purdy.

Movies released
The Day After Tomorrow released 2004

You would think a movie named The Day After Tomorrow might give some exact dates that could be used for prediction, but no such luck.

Prediction: "Mecca will not survive the next quarter century. Weapons have become too powerful and too available, and Muslims have become too good at pissing people off."

Predictor: Larry Niven in the January 2000 issue of Science Fiction Age

Reality: Niven is a major science fiction writer and when he's writing fiction, he has a raging erection for space travel that no amount of reality can tame. I think that's why it's called "Hard SF", because it can't possibly be for being backed up by real science.

This statement was not in a fictional story. The editors of Science Fiction Age asked writers for predictions about the next millennium and this is the best Niven could come up with.

Let us start with the one poorly understood grain of truth this bigoted scumbag said. "Muslims have become too good at pissing people off."

Larry, buddy. That's Islamic terrorists, not just Muslims. If you called the KKK "white people" or the IRA "the Irish", you would be putting a whole lot of people in the same boat with a very small and disgusting minority. But I understand why you might do that, because you're a bigot.

The sad thing is, you are a stupid scumbag bigot who doesn't see how the world works very well. After you wrote this, a bunch of Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. and made a whole lot of headlines. The large majority of these terrorist were from Saudi Arabia, as was their leader Osama bin Laden and this made the United States attack... Afghanistan and Iraq.

You see, the people in control of the very big weapons don't share your particular bigotry or your lack of foresight. Do you think the destruction of Mecca would calm things down? Most people with working synapses realize it would make things worse, not better.

I am going to keep using Larry Niven's predictions about the future because he gave exact dates and that's what this blog is all about, but I just want to write it here for the record and to have it preserved for as long as the Internet is around.

Larry Niven is a turd from a tall cow's ass.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

What can be done when we need a break from bigoted murderous stupidity? I foresee a three word solution.

John Elfreth Watkins.

Ah, my blood pressure is returning to normal just typing those words.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, May 27, 2013

27 May 2013

Paul Bettany b. 1971
Harlan Ellison b. 1934 (Winner of eight and a half Hugo awards and four Nebulas)
Sir Christopher Lee b. 1922

Mr. Bettany has had a very nice career in film so far, thank you very much, but his largest claim to fame in genre is as the voice of Jarvis in the Iron Man and Marvel's The Avengers movies. Mr. Ellison could easily argue his importance in science fiction and hence his natural right to The Picture Slot,and I would expect his argument to be equal parts persuasive and vitriolic. But as of this year, having two posts back to back with pictures of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, the great stars of the Hammer horror films of the 1950s and 1960s, was just too tempting.

Many happy returns to all the gentlemen on this list.

And to Mr. Ellison as well.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Over 1000 people will live and work on the  moon, according to NASA predictions, a slight majority of them female.

Published in: OMNI Future Almanac in 1982

Reality: NASA can be forgiven some exuberance in the early 1980s, since the Space Shuttle had given them some momentum for funding they hadn't seen since the Apollo program had faded out in the early 1970s. But we aren't on the moon and it is not a certainty we will ever go there. Here are the simplest reasons enumerated.

1. Any place that has neither water nor a breathable atmosphere is passively trying to kill all living creatures.

2. Passive or active, no air and no water is a very effective way to kill all living creatures.

3. No one has found a profitable reason to go to the moon. (Okay. This could have been reason # 1 and we could have avoided the other two.)

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Heinlein is now sharing the Tuesday spot with Larry Niven. While I have made my feelings about Ridiculous Bob patently clear, he is head and shoulders above the disgusting and unforgivable scumbag Larry Niven. My reasons for calling Larry Niven a disgusting and unforgivable scumbag will be made patently clear tomorrow.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

26 May 2013

Helena Bonham Carter b. 1966
Tarsem Singh b. 1961
Ron Donachie b. 1956
Peter Cushing b. 1913 died 11 August 1994

Regular readers will know I usually go with the pretty girl in the picture slot, but when you see tomorrow's birthday list, it becomes obvious that Cushing has to be the pick today, no disrespect to Ms. Carter intended. Singh is a director of several genre films and Donachie plays Ser Rodrick Cassel on Game of Thrones.

Movies released
X-Men: The Last Stand released, 2006

Prediction: In 1973, the Seaview, designed by Admiral Harriman Nelson, sets off on its maiden voyage, piloted by Commander Lee Crane.

Predictor: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, first aired September 1964

Reality: Over the next few weekends, we will commemorate Irwin Allen. And by "commemorate", I mean "rake over the coals". Allen made several of the worst TV shows ever produced. This one was merely dull and unfocused, two of the trademarks of Irwin Allen productions, but it did avoid the third important feature of several Allen shows, creepiness.

Many serious fans of science fiction had a lot of negative things to say about Star Trek when it first aired, but compared to Irwin Allen, Gene Roddenberry was a wonderful breath of fresh air. To take one small example, Voyage had a regular cast entirely comprised of white males. Just two years later, Star Trek had a cast that was integrated both in terms of ethnicity and gender, though the upper levels of Starfleet were still pretty much all white guys.

To show Voyage some respect, I will say the flying sub looked cool. The physics of a flying sub is nearly impossible, but if I had been a fan of the show, I totally would have bought the model kit.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another dip into the OMNI Future Almanac, a great source of predictions that should have transpired by now.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

25 May 2013

Esme Bianco b. 1982
Cillian Murphy b. 1976
Mike Myers b. 1963
Frank Oz b. 1944
Sir Ian McKellen b. 1939

If the Picture Slot went to the most important actor on the list, it would nearly impossible to argue against Sir Ian McKellen, not only for an entire career but for his importance in the genre as both Gandalf and Magneto. But this year I'm going with the Picture Slot = Pretty Girl rule and giving it to Ms. Bianco, not only because she's the only pretty girl on the list but to give her a shout out after how horribly her character Ros was used on Game of Thrones this season.

Many happy returns of the day to all concerned.

Movies released
MIB 3 released, 2012
Back to the Future: Part III released, 1990
Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi released, 1983
Star Wars released, 1977 (before we knew it was Episode IV: A New Hope)

Wow. It was 36 years ago today that nerds around the world were given a new hope that science fiction films could become the most important movie genre of all.

And it was 30 years ago today that some of us realized that while they might be shiny and fancy and show us things we had never seen before, a whole lot of them were going to stink on ice anyway.

Ewoks. Oh, how I hates 'em.

So on this blog, May 25 is officially the Birth and Death of Hope.

 May 25: Towel Day

Douglas Adams, most famous as the author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, died on May 11, 2001. One of his fans decided sent out a message on the 2001 version of the Internet - kind of a sad thing by today's standards - that two weeks after his death on May 25, and every May 25 into perpetuity, fans of Adams would carry a towel with them to show their solidarity.

Here are the reasons why, according to the guide.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. 

Advice the wise must surely follow, even to this day.


Prediction: December 4, 1912: Germany attacks the United States, sinking three cruisers and a revenue cutter in Honolulu, also bombarding the city.

Predictor: Jack London, The Iron Heel, published 1907

Reality: London definitely gets points for seeing that war is coming, but he's not quite as eerily prescient as H.G. Wells was in predicting war in 1940 between Germany and Poland. It should be noted that there was something of a mutual admiration society between London and Wells and that Wells' fully admits The Shape of Things to Come was inspired by The Iron Heel. In The Iron Heel, the story is told as a 20th Century diary discovered centuries later. The future annotator mentions Wells as an important thinker of his day.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

While today we looked at hope for the future George Lucas gave us then cruelly snatched away, tomorrow is our first visit from the man who almost strangled  filmed science fiction in its cradle.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, May 24, 2013

24 May 2013

Dash Mihok b. 1974
Greg Berlanti b. 1972
Michael Chabon b. 1963
(won 2008 Hugo and Nebula for The Yiddish Policeman’s Union)
Alfred Molina b. 1953
Jim Broadbent b. 1949
Carmine Infantino b. 1925 died 4 April 2013 

Quite an impressive list of birthday boys today. Mihok is an actor in several genre films including I am Legend and The Day After Tomorrow, Berlanti's work is on the other side of the camera in the Green Lantern movie and the TV show Arrow. Chabon is a writer, of course, and Infantino was a comic book artist. My two favorites are the two actors who are slightly older than I am, and Alfred Molina gets the picture slot for his short role at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Books will be turned into audio (by grinding?) and the students will listen intently. The teacher will not lecture but instead merely choose the book to be turned into lessons.

Predictor: French postcards produced in 1900

Reality: A lot of the French postcards are on the cruel side and I think they are mostly meant to be funny. This one is obviously whimsical, but in its defense as a prediction, there are audio textbooks now and they didn't exist when this was drawn. Moreover, as a teacher I can say that one hell of a lot of my students wear headphones in class. Getting them to take the headphones off is the real trick.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Predictions from Jack London's The Iron Heel about both war and peace a century ago, which is to say about five years in the future from when he wrote the book.
Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

23 May 2013

James Blish b. 1921 died 29 July 1975
(won 1959 Hugo for A Case Of Conscience)

Doing a little digging, Mr. Blish also wrote some near future histories and though out of print, they are available at my local public library (yay, socialism!), so his predictions will start showing up on the blog in the next few weeks.

There are several pictures of Blish on the Internet, most of them taken when he was older. He shaved off the pencil thin mustache, which is a damned dirty shame. A man in a sharp suit with a pencil thin mustache is a man who is going places.

Prediction: 2010: The Chinese land on Jupiter’s moon Europa with plans to claim it, the first nation to claim part of space as their own, planning to export massive amounts of water from it.

Predictor: Arthur C. Clarke in 2010: Odyssey Two, published 1982

Reality: If Clarke gets any points for this one, it's that he sees China will be a major player about thirty years into the future. Writing in 1982, the shuttle program is boosting interest in space exploration, so he can be somewhat forgiven for assuming things were going to start moving again in a big damned hurry.

Even with excuses, he was wrong about the future of space exploration. And as for the reason, water is still plentiful enough that we don’t have to import it from off-world. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A French postcard foresees the future of education... in the year 2000!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

22 May 2013

Movies released
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull released, 2008
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian released, 2009  

Prediction: On May 22, 2009, a monster from outer space will attack New York, leaving much of Manhattan in ruins.

Predictor: Cloverfield, released 18 Jan. 2008

Reality: In many cases, predictions with dates from works of fiction are just plot devices. If a story says something is just around the corner, it adds an air of immediacy. More than that, in movies and films it can help hold down production costs, since there is no need to change fashions or design new cars, buildings or fancy gadgets.

And then there's this movie: I really hated this movie. I didn't go to see it in the theater, but I did rent it on DVD and wrote this Big Ugly Stick review with plenty of spoilers. I've seen way too many movies and TV shows where J.J. Abrams is involved that really did stink and I have very little hope that his work with the Star Wars or Star Trek franchises will be good.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow, it's another Arthur C. Clarke prediction. I'm just going out on a limb here, but I think it will probably be about space exploration and will be overly optimistic.

Just a guess.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

21 May 2013

Richard Hatch b. 1945

Mr. Hatch is the major link between the original Battlestar Galactica and the re-boot, though he does not play the same role or even an older version. Many happy returns of the day to him.

Movies released
Shrek Forever After released, 2010
Terminator Salvation released, 2009
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back released, 1980

It's nerd blasphemy to say this, but I am not the biggest Star Wars fan ever. Ewoks sucked the fun out of it for me long before anyone heard of Jar Jar Binks.  That said, The Empire Strikes Back is still one of the greatest sequels ever made, right up there with the second Godfather. If it hadn't been as good as it was, the series could easily have faded away.

Prediction: On May 21, 2011, the righteous will ascend bodily into heaven before the five months of tribulation that proceed the destruction of the planet.

Predictor: Dr. Harold Camping

Reality: I first heard of Camping in the early 1990s. In 1992, he published a book entitled 1994? which postulated that Christ would return in a few years. He gave himself some wiggle room with the question mark and when nothing happened in September 1994, he adjusted his date to March 1995. He did the same in May of 2011, adjusting the date of the Rapture forward five months. The big difference between the prediction last century and the one from two years ago was Camping's advertising budget. It is estimated that over $100 million was spent getting the message out, the vast majority of all the assets the company had. There was also a lot more media attention in 2011 than there was in the 1990s, so his failure was even more humiliating.

Blogger's note: I realize Dr. Camping in no way counts as science fiction, but the same could be said for John Elfreth Watkins. I love a good prediction and if it comes with a date attached, it's gold as far as I'm concerned. Of course, the people who predict the biblical apocalypse suck at it, but regular readers of this blog will realize that science fiction doesn't do all that great a job of predicting exact dates either.  There are some brilliant gems, but in general, science fiction predictions adhere to Sturgeon's Law, Ted Sturgeon's famous answer to a critic who claimed that ninety percent of science fiction was crap.

Sturgeon's reply: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

My man crush John Elfreth Watkins gets a week off because we have yet another exact date that came and went, this one from one of my least favorite films of this century, if not of all time.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, May 20, 2013

20 May 2013

Jack Gleeson b. 1992
Tahmoh Penikett b. 1975
Timothy Olyphant b. 1968
John Billingsley b. 1960
Anthony Zerbe b. 1936

From oldest to youngest, Zerbe was in The Omega Man, two of the Matrix films and one Star Trek  movie. Billingsley was Dr. Phlox on Enterprise. Olyphant is best known for Deadwood and Justified, but he was also in I Am Number Four. Penikett was on the reboot of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse.

I chose Jack Gleeson for the Picture Slot because I feel sorry for the lad. Now 21, his role as Joffrey on Game of Thrones is the biggest role of his short career so far by a country mile, and people hate the character with a white hot hate, as all right thinking human beings should. I worry that he might get typecast, but his current plans are to go back to school and study with hopes of entering academia. I hope this works for him. 

And as always, I wish all our birthday boys many more happy returns of the day. 

Movies released
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides released, 2011  

Prediction: "This simple, practical, foolproof personal helicopter coupe is big enough to carry two people and small enough to land on your lawn. It has no carburetor to ice up, no ignition system to fall apart or misfire: instead, quiet, efficient ramjets keep the rotors moving, burning any kind of fuel from dime-a-gallon stove oil or kerosene to aviation gasoline."

Predictor: Popular Mechanics magazine, 1951

Reality: Usually I ask for an exact date on a prediction, but I liked the history provided by Gregory Benford in the book that collected these pictures and texts The Wonderful Future That Never Was. Benford relates that helicopter commuting was relatively popular for a few decades, though not in personal copters, instead in short hop heli-buses. There were several crashes, many in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the most spectacular was in New York City on May 16, 1977, when a helicopter tipped over while landing on the Pan Am building, the rotors chopping people lined up to board, and then the helicopter hung from the side of the building and one of the rotors fell to the street below.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow's prediction is not from science or science fiction, but it is an exact date for the end of the world, so it gets a place on the blog.

(Spoiler alert: The date has already passed and we are still here.)

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

19 May 2013

Geraldine Somerville b. 1967
Peter Mayhew b. 1944

Ms. Somerville played Lilly Potter in the Harry Potter series and the standard rule of Picture Slot = Cute Girl should mean we'd be looking at her now, but I am going to invoke an older rule.

Let the wookie win.

Many happy returns to them both.

p.s. The other tall guy in the glasses is David Prowse, the man who wore Darth Vader's costume, though the voice is done by James Earl Jones.

Movies released
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith released, 2005
Shrek 2 released 2004
Star Wars: The One That Must Never Be Named Again released, 1999

Another good reason for the picture above is to remind us about when Star Wars movies were actually fun to watch.

Prediction: By 2017, the highest point in the village of Newtok, Alaska could be underwater.

Predictor: Army Corps of Engineers, quoted in this article in The Guardian.

Reality: Here's the thing. I don't know the reality of this and I'm not sure who does.

Here's what I do know based on math work I did myself from the data set provided by Berkeley Earth.  Climate change is real. On average, the Earth is getting warmer and in some places, it is warming at an alarming rate. While temperature and other climate data has massive variation, the level of carbon dioxide in the environment shows an increasing trend that easily overwhelms the minor natural fluctuations. If it continues, and in fact even the trend of how much increase we see in a year is increasing slightly, the general warming trend will increase as well.

But still, this is a specific statement about a specific village in Alaska that can be tested to be true or false in four years. This hypothesis is falsifiable and that's what you need to do science.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Back to the weekly schedule and this Monday it's time to see what Popular Mechanics thought the world would look like.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May 2013

Andreas Katsulas b. 1946 died 2 February 2006

Katsulas is best known in genre as G'Kar on Babylon 5 and the Romulan commander Tomalak on Star Trek. He died at the age of 59 from lung cancer. Best wishes to his family and friends, from a fan.

Movies released 
Shrek the Third released, 2007
Battleship released, 2012

The less said about the movies released on this date, the better.


Prediction: The strength of the socialist vote grows rapidly in the United States. (Numbers with asterisks are predictions.)

1888: 2,068
1902: 127,713
1904: 435,040
1908*: 1,108,427
1910*: 1,688,211

Predictor: Jack London in The Iron Heel, published 1907

Reality:  The socialist vote was on the rise, but not quite as quickly as London had hoped. 1912 saw an election where four parties brought in significant votes in the race for president, with Eugene V. Debs, the Socialist standard bearer, picked up 900,000 votes for about 6% of the vote. Debs would get roughly the same number, 914,000, in 1920 running from jail due to his anti-war activities, but because of growth in the electorate due to women's suffrage, this was only about 3% of the vote in this contest.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

A prediction about 2017 from the Army Corps of Engineers.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, May 17, 2013

17 May 2013

Nikki Reed b. 1988

Ms. Reed's best known role in genre is as Rosalie Hale in the Twilight Saga films. Many happy returns to her.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Cities will have enormous transparent roofs to keep out the rain.

Predictor: A series of postcards from Hildebrands German Chocolate, published in 1900

Reality: The authors of the German chocolate postcards missed a whole lot of stuff. As you can see, people are still riding horses as regular transportation in this picture and we don't see any skyscrapers, so this roof might only be about 100 feet up. Even with today's technology, a transparent roof strong enough to hold tons of water would be a challenge and of course, eventually the water would have to drain somewhere. Keeping the roof clean so the light coming in wouldn't become hazy and depressing is no small task either. While I love the artwork on these cards, the ability to predict the future is not at the level of John Elfreth Watkins, whose work is contemporary with this.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another prediction from Jack London's The Iron Heel, a novel in which people with jobs do not think the corporations running the economy have the workers' best interests at heart. What a strange idea!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

16 May 2013

Megan Fox b. 1986
Lynn Collins b. 1977
David Boreanaz b. 1969
Bill Smitrovich b. 1947
Danny Trejo b. 1944  

Ms. Collins, who gets the Picture Slot, was in John Carter and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Boreanaz was on Angel and Buffy, Smitrovich has a long career and when he shows up in genre, he is usually playing a military man as he does in Iron Man. Trejo works a lot and his best known genre films are the Spy Kids series.

The less said about Ms. Fox, the better.

Many happy returns to them all.

(Also my sister Karla, who has never been in a sci-fi movie or TV show. Love ya, sweetie!)

Movies released
The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian released, 2008
Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones released, 2002
Shrek released, 2001

As we can see this week with the release of the new Star Trek film, mid-May is the start of the summer blockbuster season and it has been ever since the first Star Wars movie. Before Star Wars, most big summer movies like Jaws waited for the end of the school year to be released.

Prediction: 1985: The last of the sea elephants is slaughtered, one of an innumerable number of species hunted to extinction in the twentieth century.

Predictor: H. G. Wells in The Shape of Things to Come, published 1933

Reality: Born in 1866 and writing in 1933, it isn't surprising for Wells to think that humans would continue the wholesale slaughter of species that had already happened during his lifetime. In this book, he also predicted humans would hunt the penguin into extinction. At the time he was writing, the sea elephant was definitely endangered. Early in the 20th Century, they were down to less than 100 individuals and they were being hunted for the oil in their blubber.

We aren't perfect, but we are doing better. Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund do a good job of publicizing endangered species and governments around the world do what they can to protect creatures and their habitats. The important breeding habitat for sea elephants is Año Nuevo State Park just north of Santa Cruz, California. I went on a tour during breeding season there when I was in college. They aren't pretty and they don't smell great, but they are remarkable creatures and I'm glad they are still around.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

German chocolate postcard day! Regular readers will know what that means.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

15 May 2013

Movies released
Matrix Reloaded released 15 May 2003

The movies I mention are not all post Star Wars and not all big box office hits, but a lot of them are. On a day like this with no birthday to mention (still researching this and that may change next year), expect to see a movie poster in the picture slot.

In the year 2000!

Prediction: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.  

Reality: Coal isn't that scarce, sad to say. As for heating and cooking, Watkins is talking about coal being delivered to people's homes as a energy source and as far as that goes, he's right, that's over. As for water power, it certainly increased over the 20th Century, but it has its environmental costs as well. I've never quite understood why the tides aren't used as an energy source, probably because they only flow at their hardest for a few hours a day.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Tomorrow, it's H.G. Wells' turn again, so we'll get a glimpse of The Shape of Things to Come.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

14 May 2013

Sofia Coppola b. 1971
Cate Blanchett b. 1969
Danny Huston b. 1962
Tim Roth b. 1961
George Lucas b. 1944

I know your first question. Sofia Coppola in genre? Yes, the young woman who has become better known as a director than an actress had a role in that 1999 film That Must Never Be Named Again, directed by the oldest person on today's birthday list.

You need another hint? J-- J-- B----. More than this, I will not write.

The picture slot is given to Cate Blanchett... 'cos she's purdy. I mean, d'uh!
In the year 2000!

Prediction: Increasing mobility will disenfranchise a majority of the population. About 1990 a constitutional amendment will do away with state lines while retaining the semblance.

Predictor: Robert A. Heinlein, from a 1950 list of predictions about 2000

Reality: Umm... what?

"Oh, hi! You just moved so we are taking away your right to vote. Don't feel bad! We've done that to over half the population, so it's not like it's personal or anything."

And state governments will give up power just like that because they weren't really using it anyway.

For a guy who presented himself as a hard headed realist writing goofy fantasies, Heinlein kind of missed how the world worked.  A lot.

Heinlein started out on the socialist side of things but became a reactionary later in life, which means almost his entire writing career. Like a lot of people on the right, he loves him some disenfranchisement.

Looking one day... INTO THE FUTURE!  

John Elfreth Watkins foresees the future of energy... in the year 2000!

Join me then... IN THE FUTURE!

Monday, May 13, 2013

13 May 2013

Robert Pattinson b. 1986

Daniel Radcliffe was asked in a recent interview whether he or Robert Pattinson had a tougher time due to being cast in a wildly successful series and Daniel said RPatz had it worse.

Personally, I worry about young actors cast as villains in popular shows more than the guys who play the heroes. I don't know that Jack Gleeson, whose first big role is as the scumbag Joffrey on Game of Thrones, is ever going to break his first type cast.

Many happy returns to Mr. Pattinson.

Prediction: The medicine chest of 1990

Predictor: OMNI Future Almamac, published 1982

Sidenote: I do love how specific the editors of OMNI are willing to be. Here they give eight drugs with their chemical names they expect to be in common usage only eight years in the future.

Drug #1: Interferon nasal spray will cure the common cold.
Reality: Folks had high hopes, but the spray caused irritation in many and some bleeding in 10% of users, which is a high proportion for such a side effect. Interferon is not prescribed a lot.

Drug #2:  Prostaglandin inhibitor will end headaches, even migraines.
Reality: It is used to induce childbirth or abortion and in small doses is used to produce eyelash and eyebrow growth, one of its common side effects.

Drug #3: Thymosin blocks infection, lowers high blood pressure and slows aging.  
Reality: The only news story I found on it was about a possible blood doping scandal in Australian rules football.

Drug #4: Choline and physostigmine will be used as memory enhancers.
Reality: Choline is considered an essential nutrient. Lecithin is the standard supplement for people who want more than their diet, but like many supplements megadoses aren't that helpful. Physostigmine has the trade names Antilirium and Esserene, which is being used as a drug to treat Alzheimer's and shows some improvement of short term memory. Side effects include nausea and dizziness.

Drug #5: Vasopressin derivative will be used as memory enhancers.
Reality: The only things I could find it prescribed for is retaining water and constricting blood vessels.

Drug #6: Catecholamine will produce instant sobriety.  
Reality: Looking through the literature there was already a study in 1978 that said it wasn't effective.

Drug #7: DHEA will slow aging, prevent cancer and obesity.
Reality: DHEA is a steroid, useful drug treatments given a bad name by use in athletic competitions. It is banned by some regulatory agencies.

Drug #8: DMSO is a universal tonic.
Reality: DMSO is a solvent. If it is pure, it doesn't stink to high heaven, but even a small amount of impurities can make it smell like rotting cabbage. It does get absorbed quickly through membranes and is used as a drug delivery system in some cases. The hope that it was a wonder drug was pushed by the "natural medicine" and "dietary supplement" crowds, not the most reliable sources for medical information.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

There are still more predictions from Robert A. Heinlein and Tuesday is his day. For those of you wagering with friends on whether Sensible Bob or Ridiculous Bob will show up, be advised. This is not a 50-50 proposition any more, if it ever was.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

12 May 2013

Domhnall Gleeson b. 1983
Claire Danes b. 1979
Malin Akerman b. 1978
Gavin Hood b. 1963
Bruce Boxleitner b. 1950

Okay! Nice selection of birthdays today. Mr. Gleeson played Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films, Mr. Hood directed X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Bruce Boxleitner has the career best known for work in genre with Tron and Babylon 5, but as usual, I go with the Picture Slot = Cute Girl decision. Claire Danes was in Terminator 3 and Stardust, not the best known work of her career, so I chose a picture of Ms. Akerman in her Watchmen costume because... because I'm a guy and it's my blog, so there!

Los Angeles in the year... 2013!

Here we are in the middle of May and the L.A. 2013 predictions have been the Sunday feature since the beginning of April. There's only a few left and they don't have a unifying theme, but I'm going to "empty the notebook" as writers are wont to describe it.

Predictor: L.A. 2013, published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, 3 April 1988

Predictions (and reality)

The smart house turns on the heat at 6:00 AM and checks to see there is enough hot water for all the residents. The coffee maker starts and the oven cooks hot cinnamon rolls. (It's possible to put stuff on timers. It was possible to put stuff on timers in 1988. The checking to see if enough hot water... not so much.)

Denturinse – a more efficient method of tooth cleaning you can swallow. (What, you still can't swallow toothpaste? Why does no one tell me these things?)

Housing shortages (Not really.)

Mandatory company workouts (This is part of the "Japanese are gonna run everything" scare we went through in the 1980s)

Suits are cut by lasers (Oooh! Sounds fancy and futuristic! Still doesn't work quite as well as sharp metal, which has about zero percent chance of starting a fire.)

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE! 

More from the OMNI Future Almanac, which regular readers will recognize as a source of often bold and rarely accurate forecasts. 

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 May 2013

Tim Blake Nelson b. 1964

Mr. Nelson was in Minority Report and The Incredible Hulk, so he deserves a mention on a sci-fi blog, but honestly, his role in O Brother Where Art Thou is the best casting decision of the first century of talking pictures. He was so wonderful and then he said...

"In the Jailhouse Now fellas, neighborhood of A"

and now that performance belongs to the gods.


Prediction: The 2013 Atlantic Hurricane season (June 1 to November 30) will have between 12 and 20 named storms, with 16 being the most likely.

Predictors: Michael E. Mann, Michael Kozar and Sonya Miller

Reality: I promised a Jack London prediction yesterday in the coming attractions, but I found this more interesting, so the doom that awaits us in 1912 through 1932 will just have to wait a week.

This prediction can be tested on December 1 and I will be back to check in then. This is actual science, not science fiction, no matter what the people who say "global warming is a hoax" will try to tell you. I will get in touch with the predictors to see if they have a range for the number of hurricanes and major hurricanes (above 3.0) as well.

As a footnote to the predictions in the picture from last year, there were 19 named storms, 10 hurricanes and 2 of them major, so Dr. Gray undershot almost everything by about two thirds. 

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

We get the last of the predictions from 1988 about the exciting future that awaits... in 2013!

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Friday, May 10, 2013

10 May 2013

Jonathan Hales b. 1937

  Mr. Hales' best known work is the screenplay for Attack of the Clones.

Did he write anything good?

Hypothetical question asker, that is a rude question. He also wrote The Scorpion King.

Well, they can't all be gems.

Many happy returns to Mr. Hales all the same.

Prediction: 10 May, 1998: An amateur astronomer (Elijah Wood) discovers a new comet

Predictor: Deep Impact, released 8 May, 1998

Reality: I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but if you look at the poster and think for a second about the title, you already know this is one of those "large rock hits local planet, film at eleven" kind of movies. This exact date usage is what I call Apocalypse Soon, not so much a prediction as a plot device in a movie to tell the audience "bad stuff is gonna happen and it's gonna start, oh, a couple days from now". In this movie, the comet is discovered about a year before the professional astronomers figure out it's on a collision course with earth.

Oops, I should have written "spoiler alert" there, shouldn't I?

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

Another plot point from Jack London's The Iron Heel, his dystopian novel from 1908.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

9 May 2013

Rosario Dawson b. 1979

Ms. Dawson's best known roles are not in genre films, but she was in Sin City and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief...

Wait a second. Do I have to explain why I put a picture of Rosario Dawson up on my blog? No, my friend, I do not.

Many happy returns, Ms. Dawson.

Prediction: 1998: The Chinese make their third expedition to the moon.

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

Reality:  The Chinese did get into space in 2003 and their future plans include a manned space station and expeditions to the moon and Mars, many, many five year plans from now.

Looking one day ahead... INTO THE FUTURE!

An exact date from a movie.

Join us then... IN THE FUTURE!