March 15th, 2009

Captive Dreams

(no subject)

The Days are on the Mend

There's a piercing wintry breeze
Blowing through the buddin' trees
And I button up my coat to keep me warm
But the days are on the mend
And I'm on the road again
With my fiddle snuggled close beneath my arm

I'm as happy as a king
When I catch a breath of spring
And the grass is turning green as winter ends
And the geese are on the wing
And the thrushes start to sing
And I'm headed down the road to see my friends

-- Tommy Makem, "Rambles of Spring"

The Future Was Now

Here is a 1988 vision of something called "advanced television" based on the then-recent Japanese invention of high-definition television screens.  Ameritech [who?] envisioned, gasp, putting the yellow pages on line.  They did not envision that the yellow pages would be made irrelevant by search engines. 
I Mean, Really Now...

In 1934, we read in the Fresno Bee that in the future wars would be waged by giant robots controlled by wireless. 

Professor [Felix Gaston] Gauthier disclosed in his address that two pacifistic-minded nations are today secretly (and supposedly unknown to each other) planning to construct gigantic fighting robots, controlled by wireless.

"These mechanical soldiers," declared Professor Gauthier, "will be of unexampled proportions. My informants, whose authentic statements I have never had reason to question before, have conveyed to me the startling news that each of these nations hopes some day to build robots 1,000 feet high!"

For-phreaking-sooth!  Okay, back in the 30's SFnal visions of the future always envisioned a gigantic future.  Bigger was definitely better.  This is a childlike notion.  Adults are bigger, right?  And it permeated the SF of the 30s and 40s.  Mile long space ships!  Analog computers as big as entire planets!  Trantor, the world-city! 

Of course, "wireless" fighting robots don't have to look like people and they don't have to inefficiently punch each other.  A robot can fire a cannon, launch grenades.  It can fly like a drone and deliver a hellbomb; it can be a remote controlled mini-tank.

Anachronisms of the Future

Also at is this:
The June 17, 1911 Evening Post (Frederick, Maryland) ran a blurb about "Anachronisms of the Future."

An article in Popular Mechanics suggests some historical absurdities which future authors may attempt to perpetrate on the gullible public. The illustrations show Joan of Arc at her sewing machine, an X ray examination of a civil war soldier, the sinking of the Maine by bombs dropped from an aeroplane, George Washington posing for his photograph, etc. With the lapse of centuries historical boundaries are apt to become hazy, and these anachronisms which appear impossible now may pass unchallenged later.

This is something to keep in mind.  Recall that the movie The Sting used the ragtime music of Joplin to accompany a movie set in the swing era of the 30s.  Only fuddy-duddies noticed it. 

But that comment about the battleship being sunk by aerial bombing has an eerie ring to the post-Pearl Harbor generation....