This is some delicious vintage futurism:
The Usborne Book of the Future, from 1979: http://t.co/rXY7Acb2y9
— Ian Gilman (@iangilman) August 26, 2013
I have a deep love of retro-futurism. While I do enjoy laughing at it, I also have some respect for the people willing to make detailed, falsifiable predictions, and there’s a lot to learn from them even when they’ve been preposterously wrong. In that spirit, this 1979 Book Of The Future is a good reminder of some ideas that have always been the Technology of Tomorrow: post-Hindenburg airships, wave power, nuclear fusion, moon & asteroid mining, seasteading, Hyperloop… and this is in a guide that got some notable things right: it approximated email, GPS, electric bikes and hybrid cars pretty well.
But what I really found interesting in this one was a telling failure of imagination. Page 28 is far too credulous about some Zener Card experiments which supposedly prove that ESP works. In itself this is a pretty minor flaw—futurism is much more fun if it does allow the occasional flight of fancy—but where the book takes this is just depressing. Page 29 shows the amazing thing we’ll be able to make with a full understanding of ESP: giant space battleships.
Is that the best we can do?