Some Fiction Contains ‘The Shape of Things to Come’

Literature is occasionally prescient, and not just science fiction. It’s fascinating to see some of what authors imagined many decades ago come true, or at least partly true. That’s much more impressive than my prediction that this blog post will soon have a second paragraph.

One of my favorite prophetic moments in a novel is when Looking Backward describes an early version of a debit card. Edward Bellamy’s utopian time-travel book was published in 1888 — roughly 90 years before debit cards were introduced in the 1970s.

Then there are early sci-fi giants Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, both of whom wrote novels about flying to the moon. Verne’s speculative travel method in From the Earth to the Moon (1865) is a big space cannon, while Wells, in The First Men in the Moon (1901), posits a spherical ship made of a material called “cavorite” that negates the effects of gravity. But even informed authorial guesses only go so far; for instance, when Cavor and Bedford reach the moon in Wells’ novel, their experiences are, um, very different than Neil Armstrong’s and Buzz Aldrin’s would be in 1969.

(Wells also authored The Shape of Things to Come, whose title is part of this post’s headline.)

Verne wrote another novel, Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) that had its veracity proven less than two decades later — in 1890. That’s when journalist Nelly Bly finished circumnavigating the globe in 72 days, even stopping in France to visit Verne!

Dystopian novels can also give us a glimpse of the future. George Orwell of course didn’t invent the idea of a vicious totalitarian state keeping its cowed population under surveillance while controlling the media and engaging in perpetual war, but he certainly crystallizes a lot of that in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Today, those onerous surveillance, media, and war scenarios are everywhere.

In Brave New World (1931), Aldous Huxley depicts a populace kept docile in a different way. Most people in that novel are too busy with drugs, consumerism, and other “pleasures” to think about more important things. Today, there are even more distractions — many of a digital nature — to keep lots of citizens too busy and entertained to be very aware of politics and of how economic elites are ruthlessly getting their way.

The subjugation of women by a sexist, hypocritical religious theocracy in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) certainly has all kinds of echoes in today’s Christian Right and Republican Party.

More than a century before Atwood’s novel, Anne Bronte’s protofeminist The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) presaged the time when many women would courageously leave abusive relationships rather than remain stuck in them.

Five years earlier, Georges (1843) featured a partly black title character — making partly black author Alexandre Dumas prescient in showing that an admirable, three-dimensional, non-stereotypical person of color could carry a novel. A fact, of course, that should never have been debatable.

Also prescient in a way was Wilkie Collins, who wrote a novel (The Woman in White) containing what may have been a closeted lesbian character (Marian Halcombe) — and saw that 1859 book become a bestseller. Nowadays, it’s thankfully a given that a prominent gay or lesbian character would not be a novel’s death knell.

Another 19th-century classic, George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda (1876), was a proto-Zionist work despite its author not being Jewish. The novel, and the way its Jewish characters envisioned what became modern-day Israel, helped influence prominent Zionists such as Theodor Herzl.

Which characters, moments, inventions, and other content have you found prescient in literature?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area — unless you’re replying to someone else.)

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at dastor@earthlink.net to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

144 thoughts on “Some Fiction Contains ‘The Shape of Things to Come’

  1. Dear Dave. I can’t agree with your characters being against anti–gay marriage or pro-gay marriage, as it seems the issue has been decided. It is very telling that Ireland has decided this issue be considered by gay marriage!

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    • It IS wonderful, Kat Lib, that acceptance of gay marriage has progressed so far in so short a time! And, yes, to see a country like Ireland — with a strong Catholic presence — voting resoundingly for gay marriage is incredibly heartening.

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      • It just goes to show that even in Ireland the Church is losing it’s stronghold. I remember on one of the few occasions I went to church, back in the eighties, the parish priest as much as told us if we voted for a certain party we would be voting for the devil, as that party would bring in divorce. It was the last time I went to church, if memory serves me, and it took years until a divorce referendum was successful. Thank goodness times have changed.

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        • Thanks, Jean, for your excellent “been there” comment! Religious figures politicizing against progress from the pulpit is just so wrong, and then we learned that some of those figures in Ireland (and the U.S. and elsewhere) were not exactly being ethical (sexual-abuse cases and the like).

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      • Morning Dave..I just don`t get it…when two in love why do they need permission from their religious organization, government…why is it anyone’s business if they should be married or not.
        I am not an atheist like yourself but I don`t belong or visit any churches, temples and so on..of course if I wish I certainly would.

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        • Good morning, bebe!

          GREAT comment. I don’t get it, either. If two people of any sexual orientation are in love, they should be able to marry. It doesn’t hurt anyone else’s marriage.

          Heck, marriage is sort of a conservative institution, so conservatives should be all for anyone who wants to wed.

          It’s also interesting to think that many right-wingers find marriage okay for heterosexual adulterers, heterosexual divorced people, heterosexual abusive people, etc., but not for exemplary gay couples.

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          • Well said Dave. But if someone`s child end up being gay they instantly change the stance, awful Cheney, Rob Portman ..and now we hear about once house speaker..Dennis Hastert eek…saying enough.
            Marriages are falling apart, some are having affairs on the sly..and then they become the judge and jury.

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            • Very true, bebe. When it’s “personal” for people like Cheney and Portman, they suddenly get tolerant in that one area.

              And Hastert!!! “Eek” is right! As you allude to, it turns out that quite a few Republicans pushing for or at least supporting Bill Clinton’s impeachment had “interesting” sexual histories themselves. Hypocrites. Shows that the impeachment was more about trying to harass a Democrat than anything to do with morality.

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              • Exactly all of those who wanted to impeach Bill Clinton .
                Anyways I started reading ” Gone Tomorrow” by lee Child, have you read it ? Fantastic beginning , i was tired of prize winning novels for a while, meaning my last one by Rachel Joyce.

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                • One wonders how those Republicans compartmentalized their own bad behavior while ripping Bill Clinton’s bad behavior!

                  Glad “Gone Tomorrow” has started so well! Lee Child sure knows how to get readers interested in a hurry. I’ll be going to the library this week, and will be sure to borrow another Reacher book. Maybe “Gone Tomorrow” will be there; I haven’t read it.

                  Yes, one needs an occasional break from award-winning literary novels. I’m currently reading Colm Toibin’s “The Master” — a fictionalized treatment of Henry James’ life recommended by Brian Bess. It’s excellent and wonderfully written (in an understated way) but a bit slow-going. Like some of James’ novels… 🙂

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  2. When Smuts Goes was written by Arthur Keppel Jones in 1947. It is a dystopian-type novel set in the future in South Africa. The name “Smuts” in the title refers to Jan C. Smuts, who was the leader of the South African Party. He was very pro-British, pro-South African, and wanted South Africa to have more prominence in the British Empire.

    Jones made two important predictions in his book: (1) South Africa will experience a violent, bloody revolt in its fight for independence (2) a post-colonial South Africa will fail. The prediction of a violent uprising was due the role of South Africa during World War II. Because South Africa was still under British control, they were obligated to serve in the British military. They fought in numerous battles in North Africa and against Mussolini’s forces in Italy.

    Jones’ position was that after the war, the South African military and people would grow tired of living under colonial rule and turn on Britain in a violent uprising. In his book, Jones envisioned a long-term deadly battle between South Africa, Britain, and eventually the international community. South Africa was recognised as a republic in 1960/1961, and Queen Elizabeth II was stripped of her title as Queen of South Africa. The decision to make South Africa a republic resulted from a referendum in which white South Africans voted to be freed from British control. This was a relatively peaceful transition and decision.

    South Africa’s decision to maintain the system of apartheid even after becoming a republic had different results. Anti-apartheid protests were violent, brutal, and were closer to the predictions that Jones made in his novel. His idea of a post-colonial South Africa was a bloody battle for independence and an ultimate dictatorship. So he wasn’t completely right…he wasn’t completely wrong either. Yes, Britain lost control of South Africa, but the system of apartheid existed for about 50 years.

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    • The second prediction in When Smuts Goes was that an independent South Africa would fail. That was a commonly held belief with pro-colonists during anti-imperialism movements across Africa. Very condescending, paternalistic, and pessimistic.

      Arthur Keppel Jones did not paint a good picture of an independent South Africa in his book. He believed that a ‘future’ South Africa would be bleak due to the lack of infrastructure, economic stability, leadership, and resources.

      But let’s look at some of the realities of present-day South Africa : an economic powerhouse in Africa and international community; home to some of the top universities in Africa which draw the best and brightest from across the continent and the UK; very successful study abroad programs/educational partnerships with Asian, American, and Australian universities; technological advancements that are implemented in farming, science, and health care; stable government; one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world (I think they have 10-11 recognised official languages); continuing innovation in music, fashion, film, and e-commerce businesses; abundant natural resources.

      Jones never imagined THIS type of South Africa. There are other African countries – Cape Verde, Nigeria, Botswana – who became successful after gaining independence.

      But overall, this is a very good book and gives you a glimpse into colonial South Africa.

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      • Excellent two-part comment, Ana! Thank you! Sounds like a fascinating book.

        Yes, many “predictive” novels tend to be partly right and partly wrong.

        South Africa — after its long, brutal, and unconscionable apartheid period — is definitely a place that makes one think of the “one person” theory of history. If an amazing leader like Nelson Mandela hadn’t been there, what might have happened?

        Of course, MANY people contributed to the ending of the apartheid regime and in establishing the post-apartheid government.

        Thanks again!

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        • That book was one of many given to me recently by an old family friend who is retiring from the University of British Columbia. He is in the process of downsizing his books to eliminate the clutter in his home and offices.

          I have maybe twelve books from obscure Canadian authors, about four from Australian authors, some 19th century sheet music, just an incredible collection of items he collected over the decades.

          The Keppel Jones book was the first one I read. It stayed with me for days after reading it. I just couldn’t get some of those passages and chapters out of my head.

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  3. Stendahl lived in the certainty– correct, as it turned out– that he would not be widely read nor much appreciated till decades after his death, and said as much in many prefaces and footnotes. In this way, he too was an author who anticipated the future. In the meantime, in-between time: To the happy few!

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  4. A great topic, Dave and Clairdelune, even if I can’t find a way to rave about Margaret Mitchell. As with other commenters, absolutely love novels such as “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “Fahrenheit 451″. But I must also agree with Brian about “Star Trek” (though I don’t normally like mentioning movies / TV during literary discussions). I’m still pretty new to Roddenberry’s world, and I must admit that it took me a while to warm to it. But when I got my head around the fact that this was created even before man had stepped on the moon, well, I couldn’t help but be impressed. I haven’t read any Clarke novels, though I have read a small anthology of his, which was very clever, and VERY funny in places. Throw in a little bit of CS Lewis, and a Wells or two, and that’s about it. My sci-fi exposure is feeling very limited compared to the great comments on this thread.

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    • Thank you, Susan! And the comments HAVE been terrific, as always. Yours among them — well said and engagingly said.

      Maybe “Gone With the Wind” was prescient in that I’ve heard (from you?) that Margaret Mitchell partly wrote the Rhett Butler character with Clark Gable in mind. 🙂

      I haven’t read a huge amount of science fiction, either, which is one reason why I brought some non-sci-fi novels into my column. I would have had a rather short column otherwise!

      Totally agree with being impressed about “Star Trek” and its prescient nature! Like you, I wasn’t an immediately rabid “Trek” fan. I liked but wasn’t obsessed with the original 1960s series, and found a number of the first-year episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” a bit weak (that was in 1987). But then “TNG” hit its stride “big time,” after which I revisited the first “Trek” series and then also loved the later “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” series. Though, come to think of it, I did also love the 1986 movie “Star Trek: The Voyage Home.”

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      • Can’t have been me who told you about Mitchell and Clark Gable, as I wasn’t aware of that until just now. Is it bad that as I’m reading it, I see a little bit of Groucho Marx?

        If I remember right, my favourite ST movie has been “Search for Spock” which I think was the third one. I’m not sure if I should say spoiler warning, but I recently saw Tasha die for the second time in TNG, which has so far been my favourite ep.

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        • I remember that great/sad Tasha episode, Susan! I’m not sure why actress Denise Crosby left the series so early in its run. If I’m remembering right, she/Tasha did eventually come back for an episode or two in some flashback or time-warp kind of way.

          Now that you mention it, the third “Star Trek” movie WAS good, as was the second. I also loved the later “Star Trek: First Contact,” with “The Next Generation” cast.

          If I’m reading the start of your comment correctly, Clark Gable looked a bit like Groucho Marx? You’re right! Loved them both in “A Night at the Tara.” 🙂

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          • Dave, the episode of the return of Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) was entitled “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” one of my favorite episodes. There is of course a temporal disturbance involved, and it is Guinan who feels that there is something not right about a different Enterprise (a warship) from the one that we all remember. When Guinan finally tells Tasha that she isn’t supposed to be on this newer spaceship, she asks Guinan how she died before, she is told that she died a senseless death, which encourages Tasha to go back to fight on the older Enterprise so her death has some meaning. I don’t know if that made any sense, because many of those episodes having to do with the space-time continuum were confusing. But they were all very intriguing, and this was one of the best, in my opinion..

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            • What a wonderful summary, Kat Lib! It brought back memories of that terrific episode. Guinan was indeed wise, and Whoopi Goldberg was low-key great playing that character.

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            • Thanks, Kat Lib. Dave, Kat Lib has perfectly summed up the episode that I was actually referring to. The ‘first’ death of Tasha was pretty meaningless, and apparently the cast weren’t very happy about it either. I kind of liked it the first time around, but knowing that Denise Crosby was unhappy in her role, and that she was killed off without much sympathy, kind of ruined that episode for me. So to see her return in a way that was fitting for the character as well as the actress, felt very right. It was almost as if Guinan was explaining to the audience why they had to bring Denise Crosby back to kill her again. And they got it right the second time around. It had meaning. And they managed to put it into an episode what was already pretty good without that extra emotional satisfaction.

              And re Groucho, it’s actually more about picturing him as I’m reading it. Not that there’s anything wrong with Clark Gable, and of course, Groucho Marx is nothing like Rhett Butler. But while Gable is very suave and charismatic, Rhett seems to spend a lot of time almost laughing at Scarlet, and I can’t help but picture Marx giving her a hard time, with a bit of a giggle written all over his face. Maybe I’m just weird. And I love the idea of “A Night at the Tara”!

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              • Susan, that was indeed a great summary by Kat Lib! And a wonderful comment follow-up by you! It WAS very gratifying that “Star Trek: The Next Generation” did better by Denise Crosby/Tasha the next time around.

                Now I’m getting your excellent Groucho Marx/Rhett Butler comparison! In the Marx Brothers movies, Groucho never did take his “relationships” with women seriously — which was part of his comedy “shtick” of course. I’m now thinking of all his hilarious encounters with the haughty characters played by Margaret Dumont. Until now, I had never considered the commonalities between her and Vivien Leigh. 🙂

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  5. One prediction we knew that Dave you blog with become a successful one !
    Brave New World was written so long ago by Aldous Huxley so long ago, I am glad I gave away so many books but still have that one .

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    • Ah, yes, there WAS a second paragraph! 🙂

      “Brave New World” is definitely a keeper, bebe. Just as prophetic in its way as “Nineteen Eighty-Four” by a man (George Orwell) who was briefly a student of Aldous Huxley’s! That’s a classroom I would have loved to have been in.

      Huxley also wrote a utopian novel, “Island,” which was good but not great. It was Huxley’s last novel, published just a year before his 1963 death — which happened on the same day JFK was shot. (I love literary trivia!)

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      • What a brilliant man he was..just say he wrote screen play pf Pride and Procedure, Jane Eyre and multiple other books.
        On another topic..I got hold of “The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy”..I might nor read it back to back but holding on to it until Library wants it back. came out in December and had a long list of hold.

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        • That’s right, bebe — Aldous Huxley was a Hollywood writer, too!

          If I’m remembering right, Rachel Joyce wrote two related novels? It’s interesting to read a similar story written/seen from a different angle. (One of the most unusual examples of that was when Margaret Atwood did “The Odyssey” saga from the perspective of female characters in “The Penelopiad.”)

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          • Yes..it all depends when I finish the first one if I want to read the Queenie`s side . Same goes with To Kill a Mockingbird my all time favorite book.
            I have not read any Atwood`s, that needs to be corrected.

            On a funny note Dave, today one elderly woman was looking for a different author, so I handed her Lee Child`s latest one and urged her to start with the earlier ones. But she wanted to read that “Personal”..you and I both know for sure she will get hooked to Reacher 🙂

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              • Amazing to see how folks read books…which is encouraging..I see mostly 50`s-90`s of age ( hard to tell age). Some are bend bring large bags and fill them up and this Midwest OH Dave 🙂

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                • That IS encouraging, bebe. And bringing large bags to fill up with books — love it!!!

                  I wonder how much novel reading there is among people under 50 vs. people over 50? All those young “Harry Potter” readers of a decade or so ago — hope they’re now devouring other books! My older daughter (who’s 25) reads a lot of novels, as do some of her friends, but I don’t know how representative that is. Of course, the younger commenters on this blog are also great readers. 🙂

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                  • Actually I did too in my school years so as your daughter and her friends , but they don`t stack up books they borrow some finish them then get more.
                    Then there is a stage when kids take over so time is limited for them to read.
                    So all in all it is good.

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                    • Great, bebe, that you were such an avid young reader! I was, too, but parenthood also made it harder for me to read a lot of novels for many years. Finally, around the year 2000, I became totally disgusted with my minimal fiction reading, and started reading a lot of novels again. One way I found the time was watching a LOT less TV, including giving up sports watching completely. No regrets about that. 🙂

                      Yes, some people stack up books and others just get one or a few at a time. Either way sounds fine to me!

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                    • I have HBO..hardly watched any movies lately. Only to watch Bill Maher..thinking of cancelling it. okay..about books..one lady comes with bag with wheels , few with walker with a bag to load books..another demography Dave.in the DVD sections so many stacks up with lots of DVDs ..not a good sign..because not in the senior group ;grin:

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                    • Mmm, if 50 is the difference between young and old, then it’s nice to feel young. REALLY young 🙂 I fell in love with reading when I was about 6. I have gone through a few book free periods, but not many and not for long. And I doubt that I ever will again. And when I do find that I’m not reading very much, I do find that I’m watching a lot of TV that I don’t really enjoy, and don’t really remember the next day (let alone care to discuss it decades later) so books win hands down. Not giving up my footy though…

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                    • Susan…it is hard to tell how old someone is was making some wild guessing game, some comes with kids they are busy moms no time to read. I also hardly watch television..sometimes have it on fir news ot when cooking. I am actually listen to music more than anything. 😉

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                    • bebe, I canceled my cable-TV subscription 15 years ago — about the time I started reading a lot of novels again. I do sort of miss having watched some shows that are so much a part of the cultural conversation (like “The Sopranos” and “Mad Men”), but not too much. 🙂

                      Bill Maher is great, from what I’ve seen online here and there.

                      So interesting how people haul away their library books or DVDs! I’m chuckling just picturing it. But whatever works!

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                    • Susan, wonderful that you became an avid reader at age 6!

                      In most cases, books are indeed more substantial and memorable than TV shows. Sort of like eating good food rather than junk food — though of course some books are so-so and some TV shows are great. 🙂

                      I share your sentiments — I will never allow myself to have a not-much-literature period again!

                      I assume “footy” is soccer? Love that nickname!

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                    • As I am reading Harold Fry..I am liking certain words better..rubbish is so much better than trash.., of course you know Lori ( used elsewhere) instead of Truck ( American)

                      on and on…

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                    • bebe, “rubbish” is indeed a much better word than “trash”! The differences between British English and American English are fascinating. As you know, same language, yet not quite the same…

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                    • bebe, that Bill Maher “Brit for Brains” clip is hilarious! Yes, a LOT of English accents out there.

                      In 10,000 Maniacs’ “In My Tribe” album of the 1980s, lead singer Natalie Merchant made herself sound sort of British. She’s from upstate New York… 🙂

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                    • I simply love her rich voice…little TV I watch but surely much more than you. Very recently more and more commercials are done with folks with brit accent i have noticed that then surely Maher had similar clips. I love the accents but personally like French better. I am sure your wife would say the same thing Dave 😀

                      IMO the sweetest language in the world.

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                    • bebe, Natalie Merchant DOES have a fabulous voice, whether she puts a British accent on it or not!

                      Hmm…more British accents in commercials, too? I guess it’s not surprising.

                      I (and my wife 🙂 ) agree that French is a beautiful language. As you say, perhaps the most beautiful of all.

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                    • Hi Dave, while I realise that a couple of billion people worldwide mean soccer when they say football, here in Australia, it generally means either Rugby League, or Australian Rules. As a Victorian, it is pretty much blaspheme to mention anything that’s not Aussie Rules (expect for maybe cricket, which is almost ok because that’s only played in the football off season). I relocated to Queensland some years back, and learned that ‘footy’ means Rugby League here. A real eye opener for me actually. Not only did I learn about other codes, but also learned just how arrogant Victoria is in its belief that their code is the only code. Everything else is just that rugby stuff. And while it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that ALL Victorians take their footy pretty seriously, with a population of less than 6 million people, Aussie Rules really doesn’t have that many followers, especially compared to the world game. And I’m surprised that footy stands at as a nickname to you. Do Americans not call their game footy? Anyway, knowing what a sports tragic you aren’t, this probably holds no interest for you, but for me footy is definitely still Aussie Rules (which is also where my FB profile pic comes from :-)).

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                    • Thanks for that explanation, Susan! All an interesting learning experience for me! Rugby League or Australian Rules is so little known in the U.S. — where what’s called football in most countries is called soccer, and where football is a different game from soccer and for some reason is never called footy! From what you say, there are some language differences even internally in Australia when it comes to describing the sport.

                      I used to be an avid sports fan; now I’m a lapsed one. I keep up with a few sports (including American football and baseball) by reading newspaper sports sections or reading stuff online, but almost never watch and/or attend games anymore. The owners are too rich, the players too overpaid, everything is too commercialized, and cheating is rampant. I do love sports in its pure form. When I go to a park and happen to see kids playing baseball, it remains fun to watch. 🙂

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                  • A good question!
                    It looked to me, while the Potter series was at its height of popularity among that age group, that reading itself for them had been reduced to the consumption of Potter books. Hope sincerely they branched out later.

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                    • Yes, it may well have been a very specific phenomenon, jhNY. Hopefully, some of those “Harry Potter” readers at least went on to the “Twilight” series or “The Hunger Games” trilogy!

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                    • Well, in college they probably had to read books — even the people who didn’t want to read books. 🙂

                      bebe, I think reading novels, as you do, is like having a perpetual college education!

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                  • I’ve been in Columbus several times to cover an every-three-year cartooning festival at Ohio State, but, other than that, I’ve only passed through Ohio on my way to and from other places.

                    I suppose you wouldn’t mind a visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 🙂

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                    • I am ashamed to say that I’ve never been. My first time there would’ve been the year Rush got inducted into the RRHOF, but that year’s induction ceremony was held in Los Angeles. Beautiful views on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight route.

                      Good times, good times…

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                    • Well, you can’t be everywhere, Ana. You’ve traveled a LOT.

                      About a half-dozen years ago, I visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s New York City annex (since closed) when it had a great exhibit on The Clash.

                      Given that you attended Rush’s HOF induction, what did you think of Alex Lifeson’s “blah, blah, blah” acceptance speech?

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                    • Best. Speech. Ever. I wasn’t totally shocked because Alex is quite playful/quirky/funny. A master musician… talented, unpretentious, and humble all at the same time. Geddy is the all-around front man, Alex is the funny one, Neil is the serious one.

                      Can’t wait for the Portland concert.

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                    • Thanks, Ana! I saw Alex Lifeson’s speech on YouTube a few weeks ago, and my initial reaction was mixed. But then I rethought it, and decided it really was pretty amazing and original. He “said” a LOT non-verbally. So, I agree with you!

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                  • Mrning Ana…sorry to have missed this…I truly thing you do not need to bother visiting OH..you like TN that`s saying plenty 🙂

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                    • Ohio could be a good blue state once again if those extremists in the legislature get voted out. Just read a few days ago about ANOTHER abortion bill the OH Republicans are floating around that would ban abortion for fetuses with Down’s syndrome.

                      As long as I have been in the medical/healthcare profession, I know and have seen first hand how medical abnormalities can cause emotional, financial, and physical strain on a family. If a woman wants to abort, she has every right to. I am so sick and tired of this twisted, perverted obsession that Republicans have with women’s bodies. These decisions belong with women and their physicians, not farmers from the Midwest (and the South) who don’t know a diaphragm from a bathtub stopper.

                      Ok, my social rant is over, now on to a more pleasant topic. bebe, I don’t know if you ever watched this show while you lived in Nashville, but we watched it in Memphis on the local PBS channel. It is called Tennessee Crossroads and features some amazing spots across the state. Food and wine, art, crafts, flowers & gardening, music, nature, animal appreciation…this show covers a lot of topics. My husband finally said what I’ve been thinking and just didn’t want to admit out loud: we need to plan a Part II of our TN trip because there is no way we can squeeze all of these places in 4-5 days. He’s right. I can see us taking another trip there in the fall.

                      You can watch some past episodes of Tennessee Crossroads online. Here is the link: http://video.wnpt.org/program/tennessee-crossroads/

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      • Some random Sheryl Crow lyrics – “She was born in November 1963/The day Aldous Huxley died/And her mama believed/That every man could be free/So her mama got high, high, high”
        I’ve always wondered if that was THE Aldous Huxley (but couldn’t imagine who else it would be) and what significance it had. I never quite got around to googling it, and now I guess I don’t have to. (I love literary and music trivia!)

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        • Sheryl Crow is an excellent singer/songwriter, Susan! And I love those lyrics. It’s so (what’s the word?) deadpan in a way, because of course most people, or at least most Americans, think of 11/22/63 as the day John F. Kennedy died. But when one really analyzes it, Aldous Huxley was in many respects a more important personage than JFK.

          And the weird thing is that C.S. Lewis (who you mentioned in another comment) also died on 11/22/63!

          Yes, literary and music trivia are great! One piece of trivia that combines the two — you probably know this — is that The Doors band got its name from Huxley’s nonfiction book “The Doors of Perception,” and that Huxley got that title from a line in a William Blake poem.

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          • The things you learn hey! I can’t believe they all died on the same day. And I can’t believe how different those lyrics are now that I actually connect them to Aldous Huxley and “Brave New World”. When you first pointed out the JFK connection, I just assumed that’s what Crow was singing about in a roundabout way, but the freedom and drugs reference fits in very well with Huxley’s dystopia.

            And I knew that “The Doors” came from a book, but I don’t think I knew that it was Huxley. Or if I did, I probably hadn’t read Huxley and so it wasn’t something that stuck in my memory. But I will remember it now. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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            • You’re welcome, Susan!

              Those 11/22/63 deaths were an amazing and sad coincidence. The only similar thing I can think of off the bat is John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on July 4, 1826 — which was also 50 years to the day of America’s Declaration of Independence they each signed.

              Shakespeare and Cervantes both died on April 23, 1616, but didn’t actually die the same day because England and Spain had different calendars at the time.

              And, yes, those Sheryl Crow lyrics can be looked at in a different way! Heck, knowing where The Doors got their name can make a person think differently about some of their lyrics, too. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Cathy! And very glad you brought up a nonfiction book — a memorable one, too. Certain nonfiction authors are definitely in the prediction business, with some faring better than others. One who occurs to me is the 16th century’s Nostradamus, who actually was the subject of a catchy song (by Al Stewart): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa89bt0GZvQ

      “OMgosh – have we gone beyond imagination” — so true!

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      • That is part of it. The list also included things from his books that were not on the list here. This list is a very good representation of just how smart Asimov was. He had a rare talent for understanding where things would probably go and just how far it would get. He might not have always been right but the actual number of things he was correct on just blows my mind.

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        • Isaac Asimov was indeed as brilliant as they come, GL. And in addition to being smart and occasionally prophetic, he was amazingly productive and hardworking — I think he wrote or edited more than 500 books during his lifetime.

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      • Sorta related: How William Shatner Changed the World– a two-hour documentary showed, among other things, devices now in use that had been invented by folks who were devotees of Star Trek, and were inspired to create things they’d seen on the show. An episode featuring Spock having instant access to a library of recorded music led its inventor to the create the multi-disc cd player, for example.

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        • Wow — that documentary sounds fantastic! I hadn’t heard of it before.

          “Star Trek” was entertaining, influential, and, to inventors, inspiring — quite a combination!

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          • One of the things I most wanted from watching all the Star Trek series, was how Data in Star Trek TNG had the ability to listen to six pieces of music at the same time, or read six books at the same time, I can’t remember which (but probably both). Most of all I’d love to have a doctor just wave a computer device over my body and figure out what’s wrong, as opposed to going through invasive testing and sometimes not even then have a diagnosis.

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                • First rule of Rush Fan Club…don’t talk about Rush Fan Club.

                  Second rule of Rush Fan Club…attend at least one Rush concert in your lifetime before mentioning this great band in any post/comment.

                  Third rule of Rush Fan Club…have a t-shirt made that reads “Geddy’s Girl” on the back. Oh wait, that’s my rule. LOL.

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                  • LOL, Ana! Points noted. I guess watching Rush on YouTube isn’t the same as seeing them live. Who knew?

                    I’m glad to see your comment had three “Subdivisions.” I didn’t “conform” to the fan club rules, and thus have been “cast out”… 🙂

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                    • You have won the Interwebz for life based on this one comment. Can’t give you a Rush membership though since you’ve never attended one of their concerts.

                      Nothing compares to live performances. I still haven’t come down from the U2 concert last week. Edge is so awesome, even when he fell off the stage, he still maintained his coolness.

                      Dave, you are going to love your concert. I’m trying to see if I can work in a Boston date because those coincide with my East Coast trip.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Thanks, Ana! 🙂 Given how much you love Rush, I’ve been watching various clips of them on YouTube this spring — and have been particularly enjoying the superb “Subdivisions.” (Doesn’t hurt that I’ve lived in a suburb two-thirds of my life…)

                      That’s right — you’ve seen U2 already! So glad to hear it was a wonderful concert!

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                    • It’s good you’re discovering their music. Rush is unreal. Their music belongs under the category of rock compositions and should be featured in rock operas.

                      I have quite a few concerts under my belt, but when I see Rush, I don’t move, talk, nor worry about taking good pics. I just stand there with my eyes closed and get caught up in their sound.

                      The weekend is upon us, and I am outta here. Have a good one, Dave.

                      (two other songs you might want to look up on YT if you haven’t listened to them already: Far Cry and Limelight).

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                    • I love “Limelight,” but haven’t tried “Far Cry.” Will give it a listen tomorrow. (“The Spirit of Radio” is superb, too, as you of course know.)

                      Yes, a Rush concert must be an amazing experience.

                      Have a great weekend, too!

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            • Oh yes, Kat Lib — those multitasking and medical things would be wonderful! Racing through six books at the same time…sigh…we’d all finally make a real dent in our reading lists. 🙂

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  6. Although not novels but as a precursor,playhouse 90 then,chock full off prescience,The Twilight Zone series with the late,great Rod Serling as our guide to the unknown which seemed close yet not so far from opening our minds to the possibilities. A few examples, the suicidal thoughts and actions of those addicted to vices like gambling, the foreboding of climate change when the sun will never set and the end of the world by a bomb or nuclear devastation leaving a sole survivor,a quiet man who just wanted to read books. He was left, happily,alone,just a lonely, content man with a myriad of books which he is unable to devour as he sits on steps,tilts his head, only to break his reading glasses. With all the technology, connectivity we have today that will seem passe decades from now, the fragility of the disconnect leaving us perilous or maybe not so.

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    • Michele, “The Twilight Zone” was indeed prophetic in some of its episodes, and just a fantastic show to watch. The episode with the man (played by Burgess Meredith) who finally has time to read is ultra-memorable. I re-watched it on YouTube a year or two ago — wow!

      Thanks for the eloquent comment! And while “The Twilight Zone” was of course a TV series, Rod Serling did turn some of the episodes into short stories (as you might know). I own one collection myself.

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  7. I have read many Science Fiction novels and short stories over the years, more that I can recall. I do recall, however, reading about cell phones, tasers, prosthetic arms, surgery performed by robots, and 3-D printing among others, as imagined by the fertile brain of a Science Fiction writer long before they became part of today’s reality. Arthur C. Clarke came up with the idea of a geosynchronous satellite at a young age and used in some of his books including “Rendezvous with Rama”, a trilogy that kept me up nights as I could not put it down. He also predicted online shopping and banking.
    I mentioned before John Brunner and “Stand on Zanzibar”, where he predicted in much detail the growing threat of overpopulation and the human disasters in Africa; he also introduced the idea of holograms. A.E. VanVogt, one of the earlier writers, in his trilogy about “The World of Null-A” described what he called “non-Aristotelian logic”, known today as “fuzzy logic”. William Gibson was one of the first “cyberpunk” writers – not my favorite kind of Science Fiction, I am partial to aliens! – and correctly predicted the eventual rise of hackers in “Neuromancer”. Jonathan Swift predicted the discovery of the two moons of Mars.
    Gated communities insulating the wealthy from the riff-raff howling at the gates have been described in Science Fiction since the very early days, before they became the modern mark of distinction of the upper class. My Science Fiction hero, Isaac Asimov, in his novel “The Naked Sun” describes the perfect and ultimate gated community society on the planet Solaria: a handful of humans living far away from each other, safe and protected, each one served and cared for by his/her own thousands of robots. They communicate with others only through holograms because direct human contact is repulsive; the only time they meet in person is once every couple of years, when they meet a member of the opposite sex in order to procreate. We are not there yet, but we are heading that way: I see people of all ages, whether walking along or sitting together in what looks like a family or a group of friends, all ignoring each other and concentrating on some type of hand-held electronic device. We will eventually achieve space travel, then give it two or three hundred years…

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    • I’ve only read some sci-fi — not anywhere near as much as you have — and didn’t realize that cell phones, tasers, prosthetic arms, surgery performed by robots, 3-D printing, holograms, and much more were imagined by writers before they were invented. Amazing. I should have asked you to write the column — you offered so many wonderful examples of prophetic writings and prophetic authors.

      Now I’m thinking about how Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) drew a flying machine, but somehow left out the extra luggage fees. 🙂

      But, seriously, fantastic comment, Clairdelune. Thanks so much!

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      • Ah Dave, ummmm… I made an error, and noticed too late to fix it: Arthur C. Clark proposed GEOSTATIONARY satellites, not geosynchronous. [red face]
        Leonardo da Vinci also left out the sardine can-like seat arrangement inside the flying machine… it took a pointy-headed modern man with dollar signs in place of eyes to come up with that creative idea. 🙂

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        • Ha! Enjoyed your quip about crammed airline seats. I’m 6’2″ and can’t afford to fly anything but coach, so a sardine I become, along with many others.

          Great last line, Clairdelune! Modern moguls and bean-counters are the new “creative” class — practicing the “art” of profit obsession and price-gouging…

          As for that mistake, no problem. 🙂 Either version of that satellite sounds impressive!

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          • Dave, I’m at least one foot shorter than you, but I make up for it in width… I USED to be able to fly business class and occasionally first class in my transatlantic flights, but alas, nevermore as the crow said, repeatedly. Nowadays, it’s the desk chair or the comfy recliner for my flights of imagination. 🙂

            P.S. No way I could have written your column for today!! YOU are the DAVE, after all. 😀 But thanks for the kind words.

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            • And thanks for YOUR kind words, Clairdelune.

              Coach these days is miserable for almost any adult. Meanwhile, first-class and business-class travelers are often ridiculously pampered in return for their insanely high ticket prices. “The desk chair or the comfy recliner for…flights of imagination” — nicely/drolly said. Sounds good to me!

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  8. Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backwards expresses the faith held by 19th century socialists that technology would solve the material needs of man, thus ushering in an era of common sense and goodness.

    Twenty five years later, Yevgeny Zamyatin wrote We, the first dystopian novels to warn what technology combined totalitarian socialism might achieve.

    The difference between Edward Bellamy and Yevgeny Zamyatin was how they viewed human nature. Bellamy saw how technology made life better. Zamyatin watched as utopians in the still coalescing Soviet Union morphed into totalitarians.

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    • Almost Iowa, your excellent comment goes a long way in explaining why there have been a lot more dystopian than utopian novels written.

      While technology has its obvious positives, it’s a very scary thing in the wrong hands. And there are many wrong hands.

      Still, as wish-fulfillment books go, “Looking Backward” is mighty good reading despite not being a great novel in the literary sense.

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      • Haven’t read it since high school, but Bellamy’s Looking Backwards stuck with me in one particular way: I never lost sight of his notion that it might be possible for us to develop a social system in which all work was deemed equally valuable, in that all work– the totality– is what is required for society to function. Such a universal valuation of labor could lead to a true equality of laborers. Of course, that sort of massive change of consciousness would need to be preceded by a massive redefinition of what it is we all ought to be working to achieve. How to get to such a place as that from such a place as this? Have no idea, though I have ruled out the possibility that we might arrive at the desired destination by way of moon-cannon.

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        • jhNY, very nice to hear from you again! I know it has not been an easy spring for you.

          Yes, the way Edward Bellamy wrote his novel, greater equality of all sorts looks mighty appealing. Of course, as you allude to, that means less incentive for people who want to make LOTS of money. I can see the need to have that incentive, but it should be somewhat reined in — as it is in social-democratic countries. Namely, some people can be richer than others, but, via progressively higher taxation, only, say, 10 times richer than others rather than the enormous CEO vs. worker income gap we now see. And there should be a decent minimum wage for all, which workers and places like Los Angeles are trying to make happen.

          Loved your wry last line!

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          • All that is required, and more than can be expected: a selfishness, not of one body, but of the body politic, so that I work for we instead of me. The notion that each of us, working for our own interests only, produces the best possible society– wishful thinking of a man who wished to find things as they were to be the best they might be (I’m lookin’ at you, Adam Smith), but in practice, not to be wished for, unless you’re already at the higher end of the tilted playing field.

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  9. Hi Dave, there was a story in “The Illustrated Man,” by Ray Bradbury, called “The Long Rain” (also known as “Death by Rain.” I can’t remember if you read that one or not, but it’s about four astronauts whose rocket crashes in a jungle on Venus, where the rains there are endless. They try to make their way to a Sun Dome, but they are driven insane by the rain, and only one survives (maybe, as it could be an hallucination). This now makes me think about climate change, even though I don’t think that wasn’t even an issue when Bradbury wrote this story. In juxtaposition to this is the book by Frank Herbert, “Dune,” which takes place on a very hostile desert-like planet. Herbert was apparently interested in ecology after visiting the Oregon Dunes, thus an inspiration for the book. From Wiki: “Herbert dedicated his work “to the people whose labors go beyond ideas into the realm of ‘real materials’—to the dry-land ecologists, wherever they may be, in whatever time they work, this effort at prediction is dedicated in humility and admiration.”

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    • I read “The Illustrated Man” many years ago, but I had forgotten the “Rain” story you mentioned despite the fact that it sounds like a VERY memorable tale. Thanks for reminding me of it!

      That story does seem prescient and — whether Bradbury was thinking about what we now know as climate change or whether that never-ending rain was simply a weather thing, environmental thing, or plot device — a novel can be accidentally prescient.

      As you may know, Barbara Kingsolver’s recent “Flight Behavior” novel has a huge climate change theme.

      I’ve never read “Dune” (though it’s perpetually on my to-read list). Great to hear that Frank Herbert had ecology on his mind!

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      • Gee, Dave, now I’m showing up as Anonymous. I told you I’ve been having computer problems lately, but I didn’t realize it until I starting reading this comment, and saying to myself, I just mentioned “The Long Rain” until I realized it was my own. 🙂 You’re probably right that this was a plot device, considering that scientists at the time of writing thought that he was probably right in how Venus was portrayed, though they now it was wrong. I just love the way he writes about it: “It was a hard rain, a perpetual rain, a sweating and steaming rain; it was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping in the eyes, an undertow at the ankles; it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains.”

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        • Kat Lib, sorry for the delayed response; I just returned from a Board of Education meeting.

          Also sorry about the “Anonymous” thing; it has happened to a few commenters here and there, and to me as well!

          If I had known it was you, I certainly would have phrased my “Flight Behavior” paragraph differently, because I know you know Barbara Kingsolver’s work VERY well.

          As the excerpt you posted at the end of your comment proves, Ray Bradbury’s prose was just as impressive as his ideas and plots.

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  10. Howdy, Dave!

    — Which characters, moments, inventions, and other content have you found prescient in literature? —

    I am happy to see you and the DAOLiterati already have covered in this context such wondrous works of futuristic literature as Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward,” Rad Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Arthur C. Clarke’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four.” I love all of these.

    Complementing these awesome achievements in one of my favorite genres are Jack London’s “The Iron Heel,” Ayn Rand’s “Anthem,” B.F. Skinner’s “Walden Two,” Kurt Vonnegut’s “Player Piano” and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s “We.” I love all of these, too. (Yes, Dave, even the books by the odious Rand and the questionable Skinner!)

    Meanwhile, one of your comparatively recent columns prompted me to reread my crumbling copy of Clifford D. Simak’s “City” for the first time in decades. One of the author’s apparently prescient observations centers on the psychological effect of technology on the Websters/websters, aka us, as both communications and transportation become increasingly accessible, easy and fast over the course of millennia. Because of his overactive imagination, I believe I see at an early stage every day the tech-induced agoraphobia he describes as I ride the vehicles that move vertically from level to level in the concrete, glass and steel canyons of my own city or traverse the sidewalks of Metropolis on the Hudson: Alone together, people with mobile devices such as tablet personal computers, smartphones and gaming consoles all appear enveloped by bubbles they have absolutely, positively no desire to escape. Ever.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

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    • When I saw you posted a comment, J.J., I predicted it would be interesting and exceptionally written, and the prediction was correct… 🙂

      I still can’t bring myself to read Ayn Rand, but I would love to eventually get to “The Iron Heel.” Jack London is almost always a riveting writer (even when he’s not focusing on dogs/wolves!). I’m thinking that his 1909 “Martin Eden” novel is somewhat prescient in the way it shows that when a person becomes a major celebrity, that person is looked at differently and is admired even for not-great work. Hardly surprising insights, but…

      Yes, technology does put many people in bubbles. I was in NYC’s Washington Square Park for a while yesterday, and couldn’t begin to count the number of people looking at their devices rather than people-watching or observing nature during a beautiful day.

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      • — I would love to eventually get to “The Iron Heel.” —

        Funny you should single out that one! At this very moment, I am listening to an audio version of the novel that I created with the TextEdit program on a Mac PC, employing the Project Gutenberg version of the source material (http://bit.ly/1HnjJP2). Ain’t it cool!

        — Jack London is almost always a riveting writer (even when he’s not focusing on dogs/wolves!). I’m thinking that his 1909 “Martin Eden” novel is somewhat prescient in the way it shows that when a person becomes a major celebrity, that person is looked at differently and is admired even for not-great work. —

        “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising,” according to a J.L. contemporary who reached his expiration date the year after the publication of “Martin Eden,” which I will have to get to following Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” ordered this very day, finally. (http://bit.ly/1AgdUn1).

        — I was in NYC’s Washington Square Park for a while yesterday —

        Nice!

        — and couldn’t begin to count the number of people looking at their devices rather than people-watching or eying nature during a beautiful day. —

        I know the feeling!

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        • Cool indeed, J.J.! Nice tech accomplishment. 🙂

          The semi-autobiographical “Martin Eden” perhaps could be a few dozen pages shorter, but I found it fascinating the way London depicted the working-class Martin’s struggle to become a writer, his relationships with a woman of his class and a woman “above” his class, the politics of the day, etc.

          As for Junot Diaz’s book, it’s really good — and has the best footnotes I’ve ever seen in a novel (on various pages, not in the back).

          I think I’m less than a week away from getting to John Updike’s “Rabbit, Run,” which you of course recommended.

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        • Project Gutenberg is hands down one of the best sites ever. Two other public domain ebook sites you should try are Librivox and loyalbooks.com. There is some overlap in the content; I’ve seen Gutenberg books on Librivox and vice versa. All three sites are fantastic, but I give a slight edge to Librivox and loyalbooks because they offer Portuguese translations.

          There are so many ebooks/audiobooks on my iPod and flashdrives, I had to move some to the Cloud and purchase a separate external hard drive just to store them all. I mean, seriously….where else can I get a complete L. Frank Baum collection or Portuguese sonnets at my fingertips for free except at loyalbooks/Project Gutenberg/Librivox???

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          • Howdy, Ana!

            — Project Gutenberg is hands down one of the best sites ever. —

            I completely agree. Michael S. Hart and his droogies have done all readers an extraordinary solid (http://bit.ly/1S1R882) — although the Bizarro World firemen in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” likely would feel otherwise.

            — Two other public domain ebook sites you should try are Librivox and loyalbooks.com. —

            I am familiar with neither, so thanks for mentioning both!

            J.J.

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            • “…breaking down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.”

              Powerful words from a powerful obituary. And I didn’t know he was born here in Washington state. It sounds like he was one of those “quirky geniuses” who was passionate about his skill and loved living his life on his own terms. I actually laughed at the part that mentioned the hi-fi stereo. LOL…very old school.

              Thank you for that great link. Enjoy searching through Librivox, and happy reading:)

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      • Dave, the post by J.J. and your reply reminded me of a novel, or maybe it was a short story, about people living in large bubbles that served as living quarters and means of transportation, and the people never made direct contact… until something happened and they had to leave their bubbles… dang my failing memory, I wish I could remember the author and the title! Maybe someone else remembers it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy, Clairdelune!

          — Dave, the post by J.J. and your reply reminded me of a novel, or maybe it was a short story, about people living in large bubbles that served as living quarters and means of transportation, and the people never made direct contact… until something happened and they had to leave their bubbles —

          Along with one of Dave’s columns, a recollection of an extremely similar sort actually was the impetus for my recent reread of Clifford D. Simak’s “City,” which I believed was the relevant book. Erroneously, as it turns out. At the moment, I think Isaac Asimov — who also addressed tech-associated agoraphobia from time to time and whose Robot series encompassed the very relevant “The Naked Sun” you discussed elsewhere in this thread — most likely was the author of the work I was recalling. (Meanwhile, I also keep flashing back to the portions pertaining to the antiquated likes of myself in “Cities in Flight,” written by the criminally underrated James Blish, even though agoraphobia did not appear to be one of his obsessions, unlike both Asimov and Simak.)

          We can remember it for you wholesale? I wish.

          J.J.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Clairdelune and Dave, I just looked briefly through my anthology of classic Sci-Fi stories (Isaac Asimov was one of the editors), and a copy of “The Golden Apples of the Sun” an anthology of many of Ray Bradbury’s stories, but didn’t see anything like what you mentioned (although it sounds somewhat familiar to me). I was looking for something to jumpstart my reading after a brief respite, so maybe this will be what gets me started again. Thanks!

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      • Iphones, among their other uses, are the pouncet boxes of the present day, taking folks from messy here to virtually elsewhere, a place users find more hospitable and easier on the nose, if only because there is there no olfactory factor.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I probably wrote that in anticipation of summer here in NYC– which can definitely manifest as a direct assault on the nostrils. That fact made quitting smoking here more difficult than it would have been for me other places.

            If Steve Jobs had survived long enough, we’d have been sold iEverything.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, the scent of NYC can be “interesting” in warm weather. 🙂

              “If Steve Jobs had survived long enough, we’d have been sold iEverything” — great line! He was a mixed bag as a person and boss, but it’s hard to argue with the quality of Apple products. I’m writing this on a MacBook Pro laptop, and I must say the dang thing is reliable…

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  11. Robin Cook, a doctor, writes compelling fiction which is in a way prescient of futuristic things in the medical profession and brings up some of the associated moral issues that accompany them. His books are generally thrillers. He has tackled stem cell research, genetic engineering, organ transplants and the advent of HMOs in ways that are educational and frightening at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, lulabelle! I’ve never read Robin Cook, but it sounds like he has had a pulse on many aspects of the medical profession’s present (the now-past present when he wrote each book) and possible future. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a physician himself.

      “Well, I guess I’ll be anonymous tonight” — so funny! I believe a physician/author might call that “Involuntary Anonymity Syndrome,” or IAS. A cure would be welcome… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Bill’s comment above reminds me of Kurt’s ‘social network’. I don’t know how aware he was of Facebook (I believe it was made public in 2003 and he died in 2007) but I’d be very curious to know what he would have made of all of the social media available today. One thing I’ve often discussed with my co-worker, who’s a big SF fan, is that, while many future visions of the 60’s such as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (it was also a novel by Arthur C. Clarke, so I suppose it qualifies for this discussion) posited intelligent computers, they did not foresee the transformation of the world by the Internet. ‘2001’ was written in the middle of the Cold War so, of course, many future scenarios still viewed the Soviets as a force to be reckoned with (and who among them would have predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union?). Veering into movie/TV territory completely, the original sixties ‘Star Trek’ series communicators provided the models for our cell phones. The early design, before the smart phone, was even built like one. Finally, it’s difficult for me to separate predictions made in Ray Bradbury’s novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’ and the Francois Truffaut film adaptation of the novel. I know that in the novel, there were headsets that were remarkably similar to the basic WalkMan. I think he also predicted plasma flat screen TVs. The film version takes that a step further. The wall TV in Montag’s home looks quite a bit like many large screen TVs I’ve seen and even included an interactive ‘reality TV’ option in which Montag’s wife ‘acts’ in a television play. She delivers her response on queue. So there are all kinds of future scenarios continuing to appear in fiction. We won’t know until several decades (or less based on some technological leaps) in the future how accurate these predictions turn out to be.

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    • Brian, very interesting thoughts on Kurt Vonnegut, and on Arthur C. Clarke’s and Ray Bradbury’s novels!

      I recently read “Fahrenheit 451” for the first time, and you’re absolutely right that those wall TVs presaged the huge sets of today, and that the novel was also prescient in other ways.

      It’s indeed true that books such as “2001: A Space Odyssey” helped predict intelligent computers while not predicting the Internet. I wonder if any novel truly envisioned the Web, though the “Star Trek” franchise may have presaged part of it with all the research that could be done on its computers (that replied to the questioner with a voice).

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      • Re Fahrenheit 451: completed superseded by technology unanticipated by the author, at least that would be the future among us now if the various digital reader-thingy promoters and users were asked.
        On the other hand– ever notice how much the name ‘kindle’ is like kindling?

        Me, I like physical books, and the fact that no robot noplace is tallying up my preferences and hours spent reading, etc. (But I do see the advantages of carrying 500 novels around in a device that weighs less than one.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, as prophetic as Ray Bradbury was in some ways, he couldn’t predict everything in his 1953 novel. 🙂 Very clever, very “apropos” line about Kindle/kindling!

          Like you, jhNY, I also greatly prefer physical books for various reasons — while seeing certain advantages to a Kindle (for traveling, if people with so-so vision need to enlarge the type, etc.).

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    • Great angle on this, Bill. Yes, some of literature’s more utopian envisioning of a better future can end up being wishfulness rather than realism, as “Star Trek” fans know in the TV and movie realm…

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