Tuesday 24 April 2012

Interesting conversation about sci-fi in a bookshop

Stopped in at one of those most rare of beasts today... A bookshop. Feeling desperately depressed and disassociated. Thought I might cheer myself up by getting a book to read on Anzac day. Browsed the politics, business and sci-fi sections and found a book which looked interesting. So I walked to the counter and had a conversation with the lady behind it:
her: "Wouldn't have picked you for sci-fi..."
me: "Since the late 60's. James W Campbell and all that..."
her: "Ah. Had quite a few people in asking if there was any good sci-fi books and I had to say that they aren't really that many good ones about."
me: (In a Bob Dylan voice) "Times, they are a changing..."
her: "Hah! So true. But it seems as if the genre is dying out."
me: "That's because most of it has come true and we're living it."
her: (Stunned mullet look) "Oh... Yeah..."
And I thought about on the way back home. We have practically everything that was written about in those sci-fi books, shown in movies and on TV. Personal communicators that you can talk to, doors that open when you walk up to them, the sum of all human knowledge available in our homes, 3D replicators, holographic displays, robot vacuum cleaners, robotic factories, self-driving cars and Johnny Cabs, universal translators, sonic screwdrivers (yes really), jet-packs, exo-skeletons, flying cars (yes really), virtual reality (video games), robotic sentry machine guns and airborne killing machines, tasers, lasers, phasers (yes really), aircraft mounted beam weapons, full body security scanners, hypo-sprays, video phones, heads up displays, tablet computers, satellite communications, movies and music on demand and so on. We've landed on the Moon, Mars, Venus and several asteroids. We can get a ticket and fly around the world in around 24hrs. None of this existed or happened when I was a little kid (correction: hypo-sprays were) and now I use them without even thinking about it.

Well... Not the frickin' Death Dealing Drones and I don't have a flying car and haven't been to Mars. Yet... But you get my point.

We are the Jetsons. We live on the Enterprise. Still coal powered in some cases, but true none the less. Our town is practically Eureka. Doctors do more than any Six Million Dollar man and for far less. Our garages look like the hold on Serenity. And although it seems more like Red Dwarf, Lost or the Prisoner than My Favorite Martian, it's still pretty damn good. Mind you, it makes writing sci-fi tough.

About the only thing I can think of that we don't have, besides the silly things like Godzilla and aliens, are FTL, ubiquitous passenger space travel and time travel. Don't say space elevator or space hotels because the Japanese are going to build them. Can you think of any?

"Eee-By-Gum when I were a little'un we di'nt have none of this rubbish. We had heavy metal though. Called it Shrapnel."

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