Science Fiction literature and entertainment have given us many awe inspiring visions of the future. From visions of space travel, to weird and alien life forms and advanced technology, Science Fiction and the minds behind it, have shown us the future.
But science fiction doesn’t stay science fiction for long, soon the dates mentioned in the stories come to pass and hardly a whimper happens. The scope of Science Fiction is such that it would take many articles to properly categorize and review each and every advancement or predictions; this is just aimed to be the first of some.
It would take an unprecedented amount of time to tally each and every timeline, since there are many, therefore only a selected few have been presented here. Along with a list of notable entries.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Perhaps the best known date in science fiction, Arthur C Clarke's magnum opus and Stanley Kubrick's defining cinematic venture, 2001: A Space Odyssey has been hailed as a motion picture before its time and one of the last century's defining science fiction work of literature. It has been labeled by unexplainable by some and one of the most intelligent murder mysteries of all time, but it is filled with technological advancements that thrilled and awed audiences of the late 60s.
But 2001 the year itself came and went. What were the advancements we were promised by Clarke and Kubrick? Many. First and foremost, the illusive Artificial Intelligence. In the story, one of the main characters is HAL 9000, a sentient computer that not only enjoys chess, but also a good conversation. Clarke denies he used a one-letter-shift from IBM to come up with the name.
January 12, 1997 is an important date in the novel, because that's when HAL 9000 is first activated. Computer enthusiasts celebrated this date without the birthday computer as we are light years away from a sentient, artificial intelligence. HAL is responsible for making sure that the spaceship Discovery continues with her missions safely and keeping its crew is proper hibernation.
That's another thing, suspended animation. Since the mission in space will take time, scientists today are working diligently to discover how life can be preserved long enough to make the time and distance traveled, but we are still miles and years away from the technology. Something we're relatively closer to are lunar colonies. NASA already plans on establishing a lunar colony by 2020 along the lunar poles.
In the story, sometime in early 2001 the alien monolith is discovered on the moon, kick starting the story but recently scientists have been trying hard to discover as little as water on the lunar surface, alien objects are still the stuff of science fiction.
Though Clarke and Kubrick told a great science fiction story, they didn't imagine the future. That was the job for futurist and TV writer, Gene Rodenberry. On September 8, 1966, Roddenberry went boldly where no one had gone before; the debut of Star Trek gave us strange new worlds and alien life, and a world the futurist hoped would come true.
Gene Roddenberry had a utopia in mind when he thought about the future, because the times that he lived in were setting up an apocalyptic and probably despotic future. Racial segregation, war in the far-east and the rise of the cold war between the
Eugenics Wars begin when a group of genetically bred 'super-humans' seize control of one-quarter of the globe, plunging Earth into a terrible conflict. Some Trek historians refer to this as The Third World War and according to the character of Spock, some 37 million people lost their lives. As the Eugenics Wars end, the genetic tyrants are overthrown. One "super-human", Khan Noonien Singh, escapes into space aboard the SS Botany Bay. He would later on appear in an infamous episode of the TV series, "Space Seed" and an entire movie dedicated to him, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.
The 1990s are long gone now, and although we gladly didn't suffer any world wars, the 90s saw a myriad of conflicts that have reshaped the world. Firstly, the Gulf War began for the first time, a conflict that continues to rage on until today with no clear end in sight.
Strangely a certain aspect of this has come true. Genetic engineering and cloning are slowly emerging as the frontier of science with a big "WARNING" sign stuck to its fence. With such a list of conflicts and wars, perhaps the mythos of Star Trek wasn't that far off. But it was from the ashes of these fires that Roddenberry imagined mankind would be reborn from.
But the future Star Trek went on to present, came up with interesting concepts that are seeing the light of day. Communicators or Mobile Phones?
UFO: The TV Series
Not many people would know about Gerry Anderson, but they'd know about his TV shows, and amongst Terrahawks and Thunderbirds, UFO is one of them. Originally made in 1971, the TV series was set 10 years into the future, 1980, when a fictional organization is created to deal with an impending alien invasion. For only a ten year jump, the show's vision of the future was sleek and very tech savvy and it made many predictions, some came true others didn’t.
Car telephones for example, the series would often show cars with phones in them. By the early 1980s, technology had almost gotten the phone into a car by way of a small briefcase. We also got to see cordless telephones for the first time and they did come true by the early and mid 1980s. The show also predicted the widespread use of the computer, granted it didn’t look small, but even thought computers were well on their way in the 1980s, especially the Macs, the home computer didn't quite hit home until the mid and late 90s, all thanks to Mr Gates and his Windows operating system. Several other technological advancements were highlighted in the show, such as voice print identification systems; also, vocal analysis used to identify individuals in the same way as fingerprints. These systems didn't see the light of day until the later half of the 1990s, when privacy became such an issue. Another aspect, though not dealing with science, was the fact that racial prejudice was completely eliminated, something that has not seen the light of day even now and remains the stuff of fiction.
These were but some of the aspects of Science Fiction that have showed us the story of human potential. The imagination of a few authors, filmmakers, and artists have shaped the future of millions, the choice of making it come true however is only limited by our own potential and imagination.
Long before there was Inconvenient Truth, there was Silent Running. Living up to its name, this silent hit from the early 70s was one of the first movies warning about the effects of global warming. The movie was clever in the fact that its premise stated that in the near future, the Earth would not be able to sustain life.
Bruce Dern plays a botanist living on green houses on space freighters around the orbit of Saturn. He caters for the last surviving species of plant life within these giant green houses along with robot helpers. Even as we speak, NASA has gathered several species of plant like and is catering to them on the International Space Station. It isn't as epic as Silent Running, nor does it serve the same purpose, but it is a small step in what would be mass preservation of earth's ecology. Using the same thought, but on a much grander scale, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seedbank located on the Norwegian
These are just some of the Science Fiction inventions, ideas, events that have happened in books or on the big screen. To capture each and every single invention, idea or event, would truly require an imagination of epic proportions…
The following is a list of inventions and technologies, discussed before their time, but now seen in everyday life.
1867 From the Earth to the Moon
Depicting man's journey to the Moon, Verne was responsible for predicting many interesting aspects of Space travel. From the fact that it was retro-rockets that carried man, to the strange coincidence that they would be launched from
1888 Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy
It has been rated as one of the most remarkable books of American literature, in it writer / lawyer Bellamy talks about many modern day inventions, such as Credit Cards and shopping Malls.
1889 In the Year 2889 by Jules Verne
Verne wasn't just about traveling to the Moon, in this book he talked about getting up to date news update long before the likes of CNN and even 3G mobile phones.
1895 The Crack of Doom by Robert Cromie
One of the earliest references of an Atomic Bomb.
1899 When the Sleeper Wakes by H.G. Wells
Famous for this Martian invasion and time machine, Wells dabbled with information and entertainment technology in this novel by showing inventions that pre-dated the iPod and conventional DVD and VCR players.
1911 Ralph 124c 41 + by Hugo Gernsback
This turn of the century novel talks about personalized news, much like we get with services like Google alerts to underground, undersea, tunnels, like the Channel Tunnel.
1920 R.U.R. by Karel Capek
Though we're quite far away from an actual Robot, the term 'robot' was first used here.
1923 Men Like Gods by H.G. Wells
Proving his consistency to imagine new technological wonders, Wells depicts Wireless Networks in this novel.
1931 The Prince of Space by Jack Williamson
In the novel's City of Space, we get to see a habitat where human live in outer space, much like they have started to do now with the International Space Station.
1934 Triplanetary by E.E. 'Doc' Smith
Wells described the system, but it was Smith that explored the possibility of the medium of entertainment as platinum discs. He was off about the material, but CDs and DVDs of prove that she was right.
1941 Methuselah's Children by Robert Heinlein
This novel by the scribe of Starship Troopers, this novel discusses the invention of genetically engineered food.
1948 Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein
Again, Heinlein shows his prowess for the imagination by showing off "portable" or mobile phones, as we now know them, in this story.
For further reading on what kind of inventions first appeared in the books of science fiction, visit http://www.technovelgy.com/