Jan 3 2010

Welcome to 2010. Still no jet-pack. Time to get over it.


There’s a thing that happens more and more as I slowly claw my way up the demographic curve.  

 It tends to show up when I am in the company of other SF writers or fans of about my age or older, and we’re just hanging out,  shooting the breeze…

 If we go on long enough — then, at some point in the evening, someone  will bring up the “promises” that were made to us about what the future would be like.  

 You know.  Flying cars, jetpacks, humanoid household robots.     That stuff.

 And as soon as one person starts on it, the rest chime in.   Yeah, cities under the ocean!   A rocket in every garage!  Outfits with really big shoulders and capes!   What happened to  all that, why didn’t we get it?  And it goes on and on and on…

 Now, I’ve taken part in this ritual of nostalgia plenty of times, and it’s good, it’s fun.   We’re sharing bits of our emotional history, and we’re all on the same page.  It’s a bonding thing, really.

 But after a while — I don’t know, I just got bored with it.  It’s like some sort of code, or a button that gets pushed,  and we all start saying the same thing, in more or less the same words.   In fact, kinda creepy.

 Here are some things I don’t like about that subject:

 1.  The conversation is always the same.  We were told we’d get something; we didn’t get it; wah.  That’s the substance.  Doesn’t vary much. 

2.  The conversation doesn’t progress.  There’s no therefore.  We didn’t get what we were promised, therefore: Science fiction isn’t and never was actually predictive, how interesting; or Hey, let’s all go write stories in that imagined universe explaining why it didn’t happen here; or Let’s start up a business that builds jet-packs; or Let’s work on a TV show, a comics script, a psychological analysis of the emotional effects of media-delivered speculative promises — whatever.  Anything! 

3.  I am alive now.  Today.  2010.   This is the universe I’m operating in, and this is my zero point for my own science fiction speculation going forward.   Dwelling on what I didn’t get from promises made 20, 30, 40 years ago makes me feel like I’m cast in amber.   I’m not dead, and I’m not done!

Plus, of course, many things that we have now were unimagined in the 50’s/60’s version of now.   You know. Internet.  MP3 players.  Phones with as much computing power as Univac.

Anyway, what I’m hoping is that this is the year people stop looking at me as if I had a duck on my head whenever that conversation starts, and my two cents consist of: So, you didn’t get a jetpack?  Who cares?  What are you doing now?

2010 is going to be so cool. 

Oh, and I bought a new computer.   It’s only got 4 gig of memory and a 500 gig hard drive, alas —

Hey, wait.  How does that compare to what they used to put guys on the moon?


So cool.

Via NASA, from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Via NASA, from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter