“It’s the Year 2000, but where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don’t see anyflying cars. Why? Why? Why?”
– Avery Brooks, on Flying Cars
Ahh, the flying car. If anything was an icon of 1950s American Cold War idealism, it was the flying car. Come the year 2000, long after we’d busted the Soviets down to size, we’d take to the wild blue yonder in that most American of contraptions, the mass-produced automobile, and wrap an arm around our stay-at-home spouse, look back at our 2.5 children and soar into the heavens as kings of the world. All this and more, in the Year 2000.
Well, 2000 came and went, and while European communism is dead and gone, my car still has tires, and unless I have $500,000 and a pilot’s license, I’ll never know what it’s like to drive along the Z-axis. Why? Why? Why?
The fact is, we don’t need flying cars. We don’t need the Z-axis to travel faster. No, the engineers forsook The Jetsons and decided instead to shrink the world to the size of a microchip. You can talk to your best friend in Sri Lanka (whom you’ve never actually seen in person) from your vacation spot in Aspen, either from your webcam-enabled laptop or your Blackberry. And every day, the world shrinks a bit more.
Paradoxically, the more available the world is to us, the less reason we have to actually visit it. Every time a new user stakes his claim to a corner of the internet, we grow more connected to each other, and our need to leave our physical position becomes less significant.
And so, here we are in 2007, closer to the world than anyone in the 1950s could have imagined, but I still don’t have my flying car. And as much as I like the present we’re in, the future of the past had a much nicer ring to it. In this issue of The Escapist, we’re investigating other broken promises from the past, as well as what the new future, the one the scientists of old couldn’t predict, might have in store for us.
New contributor Susan Arendt investigates how the science fiction from the past affects the science fiction of the future. Allen Varney returns to discuss the state of the art in 3-D video displays. Lara Crigger speaks to scientists about mind-controlled gaming. Erin Hoffman looks into the effects of brain training games on the elderly. And Spanner compares futuristic blood sport movies to the reality game shows of today.
So fire up your Smartphone, put the top on your grounded convertible down and gaze skyward with us, in this issue of The Escapist. At least there won’t be any traffic obscuring the clouds.