The lure of old science fiction


I am so often delighted to find old science fiction (not the sort with scary alien monsters) but those that turn a fanciful eye to either the future or alternate lifestyles in the same of different worlds.

The advent of my IPad and the fact that various kind people are re-publishing old science fiction (past copyright) on the web has allowed me to dig into the genre in ways that I could not do previously. That is largely because South African second hand bookshops do not have a large collection of the older stuff.

I had a delightful trip in time this weekend in the company of one J McCullough in his book “Golf in the year 2000, or, What we are coming to”, which was first published in 1892.

Yes 1892 – more than a century ago, there was this person (I am assuming a man because of the writing style and the entire focus on male thinking) writing ‘future fiction’. 

What always interests me in these books is their predictions for technology in the future. The first intimations of this man’s predictive capabilities came with the man who looked at his ring for the time. I thought the book was slightly early on the wearable technology and so wanted to meet this writer and introduce him to some of the wearable technology of today. Obviously I would need to bring him forward in time.

The next was the tub. Yes tub not tube, yet still an underground type of transport system, rapid and safe.

The biggest of all was the network of mirrors allowing people to watch (without sound unfortunately) on the mirror in their private theatre or in a place of entertainment (such as a pub) activities far away. One was the live ‘broadcast’ of a play, but the biggest was the transmission of a golf game from the USA to Britain.

The mentions of perfect coloured photographs wasn’t that much of a surprise as there was a lot of experimentation related to this at the time of his writing. So no points for predicting the already-foreseeable.

Ah well, back to the realities of 2014, and the guesses as to where technology will take us in the future.

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10 thoughts on “The lure of old science fiction

  1. This is fantastic! The writing, the everything.

    Yes, I could google. See if such a book was ever written. But I won’t. I don’t want to know. It is uplifting to see a mind, yours, play with possibilities.

    Thank you for this.

  2. Good heavens! I had to check September 2014 just to make sure this was the first post since May!
    And a classic-type Sidey post.

    Hope you are well.

    Er … welcome back?

    I think the word that best describes these type of books might be , quaint.

    It is fun to read old stuff like this to see how the writer imagined the future.
    Quite a few seem to think ‘flying cars’ would be all the rage – Back to the Future and Star Wars, yet few if any that I can recall off hand foresaw the cell phone or the Internet; though Alan Dean Foster envisaged a crude form of internet his his novel Cyberway but th cops in the story still had to ”jack in” to a hard line via a call box with their ‘spinners’ to access the web or call into the police station.
    We going to see you resurrect the Theme?

  3. haha I love classic sci-fi! true what you say,Been enjoying a LOT of Harry Harrison of late – the stuff where it all began – for him anyway! True he’s ripping the genre off but still – good fun!

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