When Science Fiction Became Reality
Happy National Science Fiction Day Storytellers! Every year the book community and science fiction fans around the nation gather to celebrate the greatness that is the Science Fiction genre. From classics to the modern stories–Science fiction has become a staple and one of my favorite genres to read ever since I was a little girl.
This genre has shaped worldviews, given its readers a space to look at the world critically, and has also allowed us to dream big. But in our dreaming big, have we ever wondered what would the world look like if it came true? We force ourselves to jump into these worlds of genetic and computer hackers, galactic heroes, and space and time travelers–but what if pieces of the stories we read, actually came true?
With this in mind, and in honor of this unofficial (but super official in my eyes) holiday, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the great predictions Science Fiction has ever made that have actually become a reality.
So grab your popcorn, your intergalactic licenses, and maybe even your codes and let’s dive in!
One of the coolest predictions that science fiction has made is with Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel. The classic social satire follows Gulliver, a man who travels to different worlds such as those containing tiny people and others containing giants. During Gulliver’s travels, he comes upon a special island named “Laputia”, the world is a floating world filled with different scientists. During his time there he meets with one astronomer who noticed that the planet, Mars, has two moons that circle its orbit.
“They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve around Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary exactly three of his diameters, and the outermost five: the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half…”
On August 12, 1877, over 150 years after the publication of Swift’s classic (1726), it was discovered by astronomer Asaph Hall, Sr. that Mars actually does have two moons circling its orbit–Phobos and Deimos. Both moons have orbits which are about 1.4 and 3.5 diameters from Mar’s center. The Laputian scientists in Swift’s novel, gave Gulliver the figures of 3 and 5. In regards to the periods of Phobos and Deimos, the scientists within the novel estimated a report of 10 and 21.5; where in actuality the two moons are 7.7 and 30.3 hours.
It isn’t far off to believe, that the mother of Science fiction would also play a role in predicting the future accurately like her fellow authors. Shelley aided and paved the way for the science fiction genre with her novel Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus (1818).
In the novel, Victor Frankenstein goes on a journey of creating a monster through the reanimation of dead tissue. This idea of reanimation sparked intrigue and ideas of the possibility of human organ transplants within the medical field. Over 100 years later, in 1954, Mary Shelley’s imagining came into fruition as the first successful organ transplant took place. The kidney became the first human organ to ever be transplanted successfully, with the liver, heart and pancreas trailing after it in the late 1960s.
Cash Money Flow
I know what you are about to say, “you’re joking Sam–I can see the genre predicting science related things, but money? No way.” Well folks, Science Fiction just asked you to hold their beer; because in 1888, author Edward Bellamy penned the novel, Looking Backward, a Utopian novel that predicts the use of credit cards a whopping 63 years before their actual invention.
The story centers around Julian West, a man who falls asleep and wakes up 113 years later and finds himself in the year 2000. During his exploration of this new era he finds that everyone and their moms are using cards to buy goods.
The Apple’s Tree
What world would we live in if I didn’t mention Arthur C. Clarke? Almost everyone is in agreement that the first major portable tablet computer is the iPad; but did you know that Clarke imagined it before its existence? In his novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clarke nonchalantly gave us a nugget of the future as he described what he called the newspad:
“When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug in his foolscap-size newspad into the ship’s information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world’s major electronic papers…Switching to the display unit’s short-term memory, he would hold the front page while he quickly searched the headlines and noted the items that interested him. Each had its own two-digit reference; when he punched that, the postage-stamp-size rectangle would expand until it neatly filled the screen and he could read it with comfort. When he had finished, he would flash back to the complete page and select a new subject for detailed examination…”
Listen To Them Burn
We all have them. For our computers, to our phones, and if you are still stuck in the early 2000s than even for your Ipod or Zune. Earbuds, became a dominant household item in 2001 with Apple’s first generation iPod. However, in 1953, Bradbury wrote the beloved and critically acclaimed novel, Fahrenheit 451, which not only tells the story about a society over enthused with technology that bans books and books that are still in existence are burned; but also predicts flat-screen TVs, earbuds, and Bluetooth Headsets.
“And in her ears the little seashells, the thimble radios tamped tight, and an electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk coming in, coming in on the shore of her unsleeping mind.”
I know–my mind is blown too.
What do you love about Science Fiction?
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