Someone at the Guardian seemed surprised that sometimes novelists and science fiction writers get the right future (editorial, January 30). Those of us who have loved, read, or even written science fiction can only chuckle at our surprise. It’s in the nature of forward-looking writers to take an idea, even in its infancy, and follow it. Sometimes examples like HG Wells actually predicting a city-destroying bomb and calling it an “atomic bomb” in 1913 can be a bit mind-blowing.
I’m still impressed with Ray Bradbury’s 1953 short story The Murderer, which predicted the cell phone and home computer, and Henry Kuttner’s Year Day (circa 1953) which predicted mass advertising and virtual reality. For me, a recent post about a visit to Donbass was a perfect match for the Orwell One airstrip in 1984, right down to the crumbling buildings, torture center and bad cafe.
Belonging to a generation that hoped, by the year 2000, that we would have truly autonomous flying cars, video phones, computers that follow complex voice commands, and tourist trips to the Moon (Frank Hampson, drawing Dan Dare in 1950 promised much of this, and more), I find our 21st century to be somewhat disappointing. Since 2016, I think we’ve all ended up living through a poorly written 1970s dystopian novel instead.
On novelists predicting the future, for “partygate” read Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death – or watch the wonderfully over-the-top film starring Vincent Price.
Lepton, West Yorkshire