Stuff sci-fi got right

I’m sure we’ve done this before and feel free to link to old threads.

So what stuff do we, residents of the future, have that the sci-fi folks depicted years before its time?

Flat tv’s you can hang on the wall (finally!). But, they’re not 3-D.


What I’m using to post this (home computer hooked up to a huge network).

A black President!

wait! You have to give at least a half-hearted, “there was this movie with Kevin Bacon I think” type cite.

Robert Heinlein discussed cell phones (referred to as “wallet phones”, and carried by teenagers who packed them in their luggage to avoid getting phone calls from their parents), waterbeds (as a way to support the human body during high acceleration) and the moving walkways we use in airports (“slidewalks”).

John Schneider’s prophetic political science fiction novel, The Golden Kazoo predicted that presidents would be marketed by Madison Avenue like products, ten years before The Selling of the President. He also predicted that everything candidates said would be determined by political polls and computer analysis.

There was a Arthur C Clarke short story, where one of the characters wore a necklace that contained thousands of songs. The device was very similar to modern mp3 players. Can’t remember the name of the story, but I do remember I read it in this compendium.

I’m amused that the humor book Science Made Stupid had a checklist at the end of all the futuristic things that will come to pass*, and that at least three of them HAVE come to pass since the book was published in 1985: Flat TVs, the Channel Tunnel, and a black president.
*immortality was rated slightly more likely than spelling reform and calendar reform.

Although many works of science fiction depicted routine space travel, others depicted the early days of space exploration as a time when rockets had a significant chance of blowing up, to the point that “rocketmen” lived with a real chance of not making it home alive. I’d say that’s been born out.

We’re moving towards a cashless economy, (or at least one with widespread alternatives to cash), which some predicted.

The artificial intelligence of drones and cruise missiles is approaching the point where calling them “robot war machines” isn’t too far off.

Although much science fiction depicted future societies with traditional gender roles, others predicted more equality which has come to pass.

Body armor has evolved past the WW2 era “flak jacket”, to the point that the types and frequencies of injuries that wounded are treated for are different from the past.

There have been lots of stories about cloning.

Oh, and how could I have forgotten: a story which was science fiction when it was written, about a woman who agrees to be a surrogate mother for her brother and his wife, and a huge hulaboo results when people think the resulting twins are the product of incest.

Arthur Clarke famously predicted the use of satellites for communications in “Venus Equilateral.”

Medical diagnostic imaging.

H. G. Wells described trench warfare and the military tank (with a few inaccuracies, but certainly more hit than miss) 10+ years before either existed.

The most obvious being Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, which also foresaw a kind of virtual reality porn.

Trench warfare occurred during the siege of Vicksburg in the American Civil War.

The Venus Equilateral stories were by George O. Smith; however, Clarke is widely credited with the idea of the geostationary communications satellite.

Back in 1946 Will F. Jenkins (better known by his pen name “Murray Leinster”) wrote the short story “A Logic Named Joe”, which did a suprisingly good job of anticipating the Internet.

We’re getting there. Still requires polarizing glasses though…

We’re moving towards a ubiquitous network as depicted in countless cyberpunk novels. Sure, we may not have technomancers or implants that allow us to access at any time, but really, many people being able to connect to the internet anywhere in town with easily portable devices (i.e. iPhones, Blackberries, etc) is close enough I’ll count it.

The Man Who Fell To Earth with David Bowie - Very small music playing modules

Blade Runner - Designer Pets

20,000 Leagues under the Sea - Submarines

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians - Powerful anti-psychotic drugs

His biggest hit though was predicting atomic bombs (he used the phrase) in a novelwritten in 1914. Apparently his novel helped physicist Leo Szilard conceive the idea of a nuclear chain reaction. This may be the most astounding prediction ever made by a science-fiction writer.

Bionic hands/limbs.