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Old Sci Fi that has come true, isn't Sci Fi anymore!

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Initial post: 4 May 2010 20:19:17 BDT
Even though what I have said is true, I cannot think of any science fiction that has been that 'way ahead of its time' that we have it's fantasies as reality. We still have no hovercars.

Posted on 4 May 2010 20:33:43 BDT
See note when it was written, 1909, and notice how well it forecast modern (Az?) society closeted away in front of a glowing screen having everything delivered.

Posted on 4 May 2010 21:01:47 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
Fiction is still fiction even if the science is out of date. And as for Sci-Fi predicting the future accurately, there is really too much to count. One of my favourites is John Brunner's 'Shockwave Rider' from which the term 'Worm' was taken (referring to self-replicating malware). As it happens I can highly recommend this novel for several reasons.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 May 2010 08:29:04 BDT
rowat says:
Surely the original Star Trek communicators have now materialised as mobile phones!

Posted on 7 May 2010 11:43:46 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 May 2010 11:50:14 BDT
JJG says:
Why would we want hover cars? Enough people are crap drivers, so we should give them a flying machine to drive uninsured, drunk, and wreck lives and property?

I'm not sure how much futuristic sci-fi actually tried to predict an accurate future. Mostly it took a few elements and expanded them, either technologically or politically, to try to tell us something about now, or just tell a good story. Whether it is accurate or not is not really what counts, it may be considered a benefit if it did so correctly, but not a necessity of good sci-fi.

Mobile phones are definitely the spawn of Star Trek, they lose signal at the most inconvenient moments.

Posted on 12 May 2010 11:10:49 BDT
stu says:
farareheit 451.shells in your ears playing music endlessly,huge t/vs,feral children with expensive toys,dumbing down of society by the state.

Posted on 13 May 2010 13:10:22 BDT
Emma Hey says:
As for technology, i would say that the original Star Trek has it. Like has been mentioned, the communicators - even down to the flip open design. Also, what about the automatic doors onto the bridge? They were opened by unseen people on the show, but now we take them for granted.

As for society, i would recommend reading Heinlenn's Starship Troopers.
The novel barely resembles the film, and goes into detail about how their society evolved from the moral breakdown of the last.
To say this was written in the forties, it is interesting to read about feral gangs taking over the streets, and inner city areas being no go after dark

Scarily accurate.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 May 2010 16:30:25 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
In Robert Heinlein's award-winning but controversial novel 'Starship Troopers', the only people who are allowed to vote or stand for political office are ex-military personnel because they have demonstrated their willingness to assume ultimate moral responsibility by putting their very lives on the line in order to defend their family, friends, nation, and the human race itself. Whatever you might think of this somewhat simplistic viewpoint, it's worth reading the book, although it is just as much a story about moral education, the military career, and the men and women who comprise it, as it is Science Fiction. It is also a damn good story. Don't be put off by the film which bears little resemblance to the book, and is, in any case, vastly inferior. The novel won the 'Hugo' award in 1959 for the best science fiction of the year - the 'Pulitzer' of the science fiction world. Not only is it a damn good story, but the moral and ethical arguments discussed in the novel are lucid, entertaining, and extremely thought provoking.
So the only way to earn your franchise is to serve in the armed forces. Ordinary people are thus, arguably, relegated to the role of second class citizens - although they are never treated as such, and most of them don't feel as if they are. (Much like civvies today, I suspect.) Policemen and politicians have to be ex-military men, and society is strict, but it is honest and responsible, and peace and security generally reign supreme. The ex-military men reckon this is a good trade-off - and who is to say that they are wrong? However, I do not think this is any very accurate reflection of modern society. Although Emma's two points are valid, the inner city areas were basically 'no go' for the military on leave, where they were likely to be picked on by thugs who resented their supposed superiority.

Posted on 14 May 2010 11:43:36 BDT
most sci fi tends to highlight wonderful changes in our techology and happens to assume that society and individuals will mature as technology does - leaving behind our more base instincts. hmmmm doubtful, as mentioned above, drunk driving hovercars, among others such as teleporting peeping toms, superpowered happy slappers and people turning themselves into greasy stains on the side of a building with high powered jet-packs!!

actually, it doesnt sound too bad..........................hehe

Posted on 14 May 2010 13:42:59 BDT
Last edited by the author on 14 May 2010 13:45:46 BDT
zargb5 says:
To be honest a lot of SF prediction apart from a very few real exceptions already mentioned is pretty way off the mark. I am a big fan of SF but it does get it wrong 90% of the time. It does things better by not being over explicit about the future. Phil Dick is a prime case in point- he is gaining wider popularity because his stories were more based in the interaction between politics, philosophy and technology via evolving culture. Even Wells is still pertinant today even though the details may have been proved incorrect. Any novel that makes you think about issues as well as entertain is OK in my book. I think some SF does inspire engineers and scientists to try and develop the imagined gadgets etc. How we use them for ill or good is anyones guess. Did SF predict the internet ?or even the personal computer? that has massively reshaped our society. I have read instances of computers - but they are mainly in support of military based stories or people with massive incomes.

The optimistic promethean view of science from the 50's onwards now seems faintly ridiculous and the SF which is going to last the test of time seem to be the negative views of humanity and its interaction with technology. The idea that things will just get better and better is but a dream maybe.

In reply to an earlier post on 14 May 2010 15:52:44 BDT
Don't you think that science geeks who used to like Star Trek had to develop a flip top phone. Transporters will come next. Many things have come purely out of sci-fi, not because we needed them but because scientists don't have any ideas themselves. Obviously I am excluding DNA and the mapping of the genetic code. Even so it was the sci-fi writers who have instigated many of the progression of mankind. They were the ideas people and the scientists turned an idea into reality. I would be happier though if they could concentrate on more worthy causes, like a cure for cancer and abolition of poverty and starvation throughout the world. My "laptop" in the eighties was my briefcase, and it was obvious that someone needed to create a device where I could find all my files in one little box. Supply and demand, and purely for financial gain and not humanitarian.

The 50's was the most creative time in sci-fi although Brave New World, Metropolis and even 1984 have been adapted in to our new progression towards the abyss. So many things we have we don't need and once we have them don't even appreciate. Communications is the worse progress of all, in a world where everyone can in theory talk to eachother are we any better for it. I think the world is worse, far more stressful, and has just made people desensitised and uncompassionate.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 May 2010 23:11:18 BDT
Hmm, this lends new scope to the Darwin Awards, see

and all the links from there especially this written by the guy who claims to have started the rocket car story...

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 09:31:14 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
The closest thing I can think of to the modern mobile phone has Star Trek's communicators beat by a mere year in time, but more significantly by their similarity to modern mobiles in the way they are used; they are primarily a social device. In his book `The Age of the Pussyfoot' (copyright 1969, but first published in a shorter form in Galaxy Magazine, copyright 1965), Frederick Pohl has the inhabitants of his future society never being far away from a hand-held device called a `joymaker'. This instrument not only acted as a telephone and private secretary/calendar, but was also in touch with a central database (i.e. the internet) which could answer virtually any question they cared to ask. So far, it's a 3G mobile, right? However, they were more advanced than our mobiles. Not only did they have a verbal interface, but they also came with certain attachments making them capable of functioning as a pocket flask or first-aid kit - which we could probably do now - but also administer various chemicals in the form of stimulants, smells, and even `sensory stimulation through the tactile net'. You could send or receive a kiss, for example, both the scent and the feel of it. OK, mobile phones still have a way to go to catch up with this device, but I'd be willing to bet that they get there before A.D. 2527 which is when the novel is set.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2010 20:55:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 May 2010 20:56:32 BDT
Hmm, the vibration function could be enhanced and modulated to give a touching sensation, that's one step forward - feely-phone, but how to detect and encode the touching when transmitting?

Posted on 18 May 2010 14:55:26 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
Good point, R.F. The mind boggles!

Posted on 18 May 2010 15:11:13 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
More seriously though. Probably the traditional Sci-Fi answer would be that as all sensation could be ultimately reduced to a sequence of minute electrical impulses in the brain, the remarkable 'tactile net' would identify, isolate, encode and transmit this data in the normal way. How it would then 'download' it into the appropriate parts of the recipient's brain is another matter. How this 'tactile net' would employ selectivity could also be a problem. You might receive the sensation of a kiss OK, but it might come along with a sudden desperate urge for a pee.

Posted on 20 May 2010 00:00:35 BDT
penny says:
It is not only mobile phones that grew out of Star Trek. Modern medical scanners started there and quite a few people are thankful for them. Its only a matter of time before they become handheld and more easily recognised. Unfortunately we don't seem to improve as a species. There are several societies I've found in futuristic fiction which I wouldn't mind us going in the direction of....not going to happen of course.

Posted on 20 May 2010 12:36:41 BDT
Last edited by the author on 20 May 2010 12:38:19 BDT
Behan says:
From SF books I've read recently:

"Bug Jack Barron" by Norman Spinrad - foresaw reality TV and a sort of left-wing Glen Beck, but couldn't see a black president or a mixed America.
H.G. Wells predicted a great deal of future innovations, including moon landing, but couldn't believe in commercial air travel.
"The City and the Stars" by Arthur C. Clarke - Man relies on solid state, networked super computers and perfects machines with no moving parts. Humans invent space ships but it's still easier to take the subway.
"Trouble with Lichen" by John Wyndham foresaw women's liberation, but not because of the pill. Then a few years later...
"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert Heinlein - foresaw the pill and the waterbed, but despite having forthright female characters, they still did most of the cooking.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 May 2010 05:37:28 BDT
S. J. Fisher says:
And talking about Arthur C. Clarke, what about geosynchronous satellites? Where would we be without them? The realization that, given the correct orbit, a satellite would remain stationary in relation to a point on the Earth's surface was first postulated by Clarke. He also suggested the idea of Space Elevators (an elevator running from the Earth's surface out of its gravity well). I am sure we will have them as soon as we find a material with suitable physical properties for making the tether (apparently Buckminsterfullerene could show some promise here) as it would reduce the cost of putting things into space by a huge factor.

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2010 18:20:36 BDT
Sophia says:
Yes...William Gibson, Neuromancer.

Decks are your personal computers and you jack into cyberspace (which admittedly is still beyond what we have right now)

That jumps to mind immediately but there are other examples scratching at the back of my mind.

Posted on 2 Jun 2010 17:55:49 BDT
Octagon presumed all the computers in the world-wide net had enough connectivity to become a sentient entity. IBM managed to synthesise the functionality of half a mouse brain a few years ago. see the BBC news item
So I would expect that although we may not know it yet, there just might soon be sufficient connectivity for Octagon to come to life.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2010 00:54:46 BDT
Ive said it before and I will say it again - The man who awoke - Laurence manning - written in 1929, predicts the energy crisis looming and the depletion of natural resources, genetic modification, virtual reality and the shorter working week to name but a few - track it down - I got my last copy from a Z shop here on amazon for 1p (plus £2.75 p&p) - But when you get a copy - don't lend it out or it may disappear as has happened to my two previous copies

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2010 20:19:20 BDT
Weren't there automatic doors in real life at the time of Star Trek? Sure, they wouldn't be controlled by motion detectors, but by pressure sensitive pads built into the floor.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jun 2010 23:37:44 BDT
I have a built in motion detector. When it goes off, I go for a poo.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Jun 2010 14:30:51 BDT
Emma Hey says:
"However, I do not think this is any very accurate reflection of modern society. Although Emma's two points are valid, the inner city areas were basically 'no go' for the military on leave, where they were likely to be picked on by thugs who resented their supposed superiority. "

S.J. Fisher - Sorry i'm a bit late replying.
I wasn't clear in my first post; the horrible, crime ridden society is what Heinlenn describes as the society which precedes the one that is the main setting of the book.
He describes the Mobile Infantry veterans returning from war with an alien race (not the arachnids, but the tall, skinny, blue aliens.) and are so disgusted with the lawless society that they have fought to protect, they stage a coup and put in place the new system whereby only ex-servicemen and women can vote.

This precursor society, even though it is only mentioned briefly, seems all too familiar to us.
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Initial post:  4 May 2010
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