The Wonderful Future that Never Was: Flying Cars, Mail Delivery by Parachute, and Other Predictions from the Past

Overview

Between 1903 and 1969, scientists and other experts made hundreds of predictions in Popular Mechanics about what the future would hold. Here are the very best of them, complete with the original, visually stunning retro art plus chapter introductions by astrophysics professor, science-fiction author, and former NASA advisor Gregory Benford.  “Endlessly fascinating.”--Booklist.  “A wonderful coffee-table book that you will also want to read page-by-page.”--Joe Haldeman,...
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Overview

Between 1903 and 1969, scientists and other experts made hundreds of predictions in Popular Mechanics about what the future would hold. Here are the very best of them, complete with the original, visually stunning retro art plus chapter introductions by astrophysics professor, science-fiction author, and former NASA advisor Gregory Benford.  “Endlessly fascinating.”--Booklist.  “A wonderful coffee-table book that you will also want to read page-by-page.”--Joe Haldeman, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of The Forever War
 
“All these fantastically fabulous futures, and I get to live in none of them--and no, having an iPod Touch does not make up for it--but at least I have this book, which almost does.”--John Scalzi, bestselling author of Old Man's War
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588169754
  • Publisher: Hearst
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 198,193
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is a two-time winner of the Nebula Award and a professor of physics at the University of California. He is the author of more than 20 novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape. Benford has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature.
 
Popular Mechanics inspires, instructs, and influences 9 million curious minds that read the magazine every month. The magazine features breakthroughs in the latest innovations in science and technology.
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2012

    Fascinating history of technical predictions that held promises

    Fascinating history of technical predictions that held promises never fulfilled. It is a very enjoyable read and a cautionary tale about making predictions about advances in science and technology. The future remains shrouded in mystery and maybe it should.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out

    The book was a hit. I gave a copy to my Dad, Father-n-law and Uncle. They all loved it. I've even ordered 3 more copies to give to customers.

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  • Posted February 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Entertaining and thought-provoking

    This book is not science fiction. The novels of Jules Verne (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, etc.) are sci-fi. Movies like Forbidden Planet (1956), with Robby the Robot, the Krell, and the id monster, are sci-fi. The Jetsons, the space-age family with their wonderful, labor-free house, is sci-fi. But Popular Mechanics is the real deal. It's filled with real predictions by people who knew what they were talking about. What we need to understand, says Gregory Benford, is that predictions we find humorous in 2011, "grasped at least a portion of the future. . In the year 1900 everyone knew that technology drove their world and would drive the future even harder" (pg. 9). What we need to remember is the context of the predictions-the war years (both world wars) when inventions (and dreams) were vital to survival, the thirties and the fifties when optimism filled the air. This is one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking books you'll read this year. The illustrations alone are worth the price-a bright red motor-sleigh that travels at 60 mph (1912), the most amazing foldable house you ever saw, with rooms that combine and a "swinging lounge" (1922), children sitting around an artificial sun absorbing ultraviolet rays to prevent their getting rickets (1925), a house whose air conditioning comes from a pool on the roof (1928), a magnificent multi-level city (1928), scientists wearing gas masks as they test the air (1932), bicycles encased in strong plastic to protect not just the cyclist's head but his whole body (1933), a video telephone (1940), a woman hosing down the living room sofa (1950), tooth transplants (1966), and the works inside a wrist-watch that is also a total communication center (1968). And that's not all. We used to see drawings in this style on the funny pages. It was imitated (and called Pop Art) by Roy Lichtenstein in the sixties. The illustrations in this book are beautiful and hilarious at the same time. What did they say we could expect? The end of steel. Plastics stronger than glass. (Remember The Graduate?) Dining tables with place settings and flowers on them that fold into tea carts. Frozen dinners at home and frozen foods in the grocery store. The microwave, the air ambulance, domed stadiums, jet engines, television, "plug-in plastic organs," and personal helicopters. And we have some of those things today, right? Well, they don't look like the ones in the book, but the future is indeed here every day, and this book shows what else may come. And how it will work. And there's a bonus: inside the dust jacket is a nifty poster. Quill says: Guys in garages and kids in dorm rooms didn't invent inventing. But they're all carrying on the spirit of optimism that has driven American science for more than a century.

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    Posted June 23, 2011

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    Posted October 13, 2010

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    Posted January 14, 2011

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    Posted October 12, 2010

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