Monday, November 27, 2006


We have a new TV channel that's been airing some old British science fiction programs. One show we watched yesterday was set in a future that has, by now, long since passed. I love retro sci-fi... I marvel at all the gadgets they were sure we'd have invented by now. If I become indignant, it's only because in real life this millennium has proven so unjust. Where is my hover car? My personal spacecraft? My jet pack? Why are those slacker scientists not busy inventing the transporter and the thing that prepares dinner in two seconds?

But what's even more engrossing are the now-everyday things that the writers didn't foresee. Tiny computers? No. In retro sci-fi, they fill rooms with their huge blinky blippiness. And using vacuum tubes and reel-to-reel tape must be why it takes them so long to answer questions.

I suppose the wristwatch videophones weren't far off the mark, but who'd have predicted that teenagers would prefer texting? The purple hair was insightful, but of course they had to go and screw it up by giving everyone the same purple hair.

But the funniest thing to me -- the most anachronistic -- is that in these futuristic programs, they're all still smoking!


happy and blue 2 said...

In the future they find out it's not cigarettes that caused cancer. It was peoples worrying about cigarette smoke that caused it..

Cathy said...

You are a hoot! I may have to watch these just to see the smoking.

Funny, though, that just yesterday I was having a conversation with my scientist son and found myself rhapsodizing about the wireless laptop that sends words and pictures through the air to my printer and connects me to information and people who would otherwise be inaccessible. He tried to give me a mini-seminar on this mysterious, miraculous business, but my old brain doesn't hang on to it very long.

Cell phones are better than Captain Kirk's communicator. (His didn't take pictures)

I can get a Lean Cuisine out of the microwave in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.

I'd trust you with a jet pack, but think about those other idiots on the highway. Get 'em airborne and we'd be diving for the underbrush on a regular basis:0D

robin andrea said...

I thought we'd be way ahead of where we are, by now (how's that for a strange sentence?). I keep waiting for medicine to catch up with my ideas of the future. Can't someone just touch me, and see the whole picture, including my genetic make-up. I seem to recall doctors in those old sci-fi shows could analyze someone just by touching them. Yes, a transporter, jet-pack. I'd travel a lot more, if I could be beamed to where I wanted to be. It's snowing like crazy here right now. Wouldn't it be nice to be beamed to Hawaii?

Jenn said...

Ah, the incongruities.

I recently read, for the first time, the old sci fi book series Fuzzy Sapiens, in it, the human protaganist encourages the little alien in his smoking, because it is 'healthy' but discourages him from drinking, because it is bad for you.

Now we think that drinking in moderate amounts is beneficial, and find nothing but alarming news regarding smoking.

The other bit in these books that amused me was that space travel had been conquered, and vast distances could be traveled in little time, but cellular telephones where not conceived, and so if the hero was out in the field, he could not be contacted until he got back to the home base - hours or weeks later.

Funny future, isn't it?

Floridacracker said...

I'm still waiting for broadband to be invented.

Someday, we will connect faster than 56k.

Linda K said...

Great post!

Katie said...

Heh, sounds like you need one of these

karl said...

great post, yeah they have been working on the instant food preparer but every time the scientist try to genetically modify or over process our food they "eventually" find out that they don't really understand the subtleties of mother nature

vicki said...

I'm laughing because I was right on your heels over at FC's and I think Tremors is as good a guess as any. And then you were at my place while I was headed here but I got hung up on soap. Soap gifts, flavors, colors, names...guess whre I was doing some Christmas shopping in my head? I'll go back there in a minute.

Anway- there's always the Roomba. I wouldn't trust one not to eat the cat or get stuck in a rut and wear out a path in the carpet but still, that comes close to a hover craft. Sort of.

I would like to have Robin Andrea beam over here. And it would be swell if they invent broadband so FC has more access to photo blogs that load slowly...

Great, funny post. Thanks! Back to soap.

Smoking! What we didn't know.

Rurality said...

H&B2, oh no, I'm in trouble either way!

Cathy, you are so right about the cell phones. But he probably didn't get charged as much per minute. I thought about microwaves, but they can't manufacture the food out of thin air, as would be preferable.

RA - tricorders! We need 'em. :) I have a feeling I'd secretly be one of those people who was afraid to teleport, if it really came down to it.

Jenn, that's exactly right, that is what I love about retro sci-fi!

FC, I feel your pain. Well not really, but I can remember what it was like.

Thanks Linda!

Katie, it's good to know I'm not the only one, LOL.

Karl, I'm sure it wouldn't be as good as the one on Star Trek anyway.

Thanks Vicki! I love the idea of the Roomba, but I need the machine that will pick all the junk up off the floor first. :)

Dave said...

I've read various meditations on this theme - "the future ain't what it used to be" - and even written one or two such myself, but somehow smoking never came up. Excellent point.

In a way, I wish computers still were enormous. This is America. Bigger is always better!

Rurality said...

Dave, there's always the Cray!

Laura said...

You really have to be a bit warped to watch retro science fiction. I love it too. :) The new Dr. Who comes on CBC on Monday nights here and I'm so glad it's on one of the two channels I get. Now that I don't have to share the TV with non-nerd/ geek people I can watch it every Monday. Though I don't the new guy as much, he's just a bit too happy/ excited. Maybe he will grow on me.

C.S. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C.S. said...

First, thanks for your "happy birthday" wish on my blog. And thanks for this entry; it reminded me of some of the few times my dad and I shared togetherness and fun. He loved the "old sci-fi" which, back then (the 60s) seemed fascinating. If it was getting late, and a really good sci-fi flick was coming on TV, I'd beg him to let me stay up and watch it with him. He always did.

He also loved those cheesy semi-sci-fi-horror flicks with the "radiation" factor that caused HUGE ants/spiders to attack humans. We watched lots of those old movies too.

Thanks for making me remember that even though sometimes we have an abusive parent, there ARE some good times with them too.

Rurality said...

Laura, my hubby really likes Dr Who. We've seen the new one a few times too.

CS, you certainly didn't deserve abusive parents, but I'm glad there are some good memories too.

My Dad wasn't a big sci-fi fan, but he did like those radiated spider type movies I think. I can remember trying to get out of going to church to watch them... they always seemed to be on TV on Sunday morning!