Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tales of Future Past

Here's a great website to spend some time with: Tales of Future Past. It's a snarky look at many 20th centuries concepts of the future. Lots of great pictures and very funny and well written commentary. This really should be turned into a coffee table book.

...We certainly live very different lives from that of our fathers and grandfathers. That is not in dispute. But what did not happen is what many expected, though never talked about much. Assuming that we dodged the 1984, Brave New World bullet, our future was supposed to be a sort of technocratic, atomic-powered, computer-controlled, antiseptic, space-travelling Jerusalem that would at last free us from the curse of Eden and original sin. We expected some how, some way that we would be on the road to being freed from the human condition. We expected a sort of bloodless, benign French Revolution with Hugo Gernsback as our Voltaire and Carl Sagan as our Robespierre. And what did we get? The City of Man with Tivo. The fact is, science fiction and popular science had set the bar so high that only the Second Coming with ray guns would have satisfied.

A section on the Thunderbirds. feels slightly off topic, but it's very well done nonetheless. I loved that show.

But the 21st century world of Thunderbirds was one that could only be called an engineer's utopia. This was a world where any idea, no matter how insane, could get the green light and where funding is unlimited. Want to build a giant walking tank? Sure. Send a manned spaceship to the Sun? Why not? Move the Empire State Building? No problem. Deejays in orbit? Why didn't we think of that? Atomic-powered hypersonic passenger-planes? Blank cheques all around!

via near near future, via other places...

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