Science fiction writers make faulty predictions for year 2010

Beena Raghavendran | Staff Writer

Welcome to the future — although, according to Mason High School’s science-fiction fans, it probably isn’t what you expected.2010, five years before the setting of Back to the Future Part II, sees no sign of Michael J. Fox’s self-drying jacket or shoes with automatic laces, no waiters on crackly computer screens serving drinks at restaurants and no flying cars causing traffic jams on the skyway.

Other speculated technologies currently missing from 2010 life, according to junior Kase Corstanje, include the discovery of new life forms, faster-than-light travel and solar system explorations.

“[We aren’t] finding life forms out there, [or] exploring hyperspace, [which is] faster than light travel,” Corstanje said. “That was something in almost any science fiction universe that we don’t have. [And] holograms, those aren’t out . . . [Basically,] we haven’t expanded off of earth as other sci-fi series have expected us to [by 2010].”

Twentieth-century writer Arthur C. Clarke depicted our world today in his 1982 novel 2010: Odyssey Two as one co-existing with another society on the moon (humans had already occupied the moon in his novel’s prequel, 2001: A Space Odyssey). Corstanje said Clarke also speculated 2010 to be the year humans meet aliens; Corstanje is, however, skeptical as to whether it will come true in this year.

“The year of contact [is] 2010, according to A Space Odyssey,” Corstanje said. “I don’t think that’ll happen in 2010 or anywhere near [now] . . . But, the year is young.”

Sophomore Alex Mezhvinsky, a member of MHS Film Club, said he finds the glaring differences between 2010 science fiction predictions and reality in the detailed speculations about robots controlling society — an element missing from our life today.

“[2010, in science fiction, is] much more focused on robotics and stuff like that,” Mezhvinsky said. “With the advent of genetics, we’ve become more biotechnological along with the cyber technology that we had, but back then, since [authors] didn’t know [about our eventual scientific shift to genetics and cyberspace], they focused on robots [rather than predicting our current computerized world].”

AP American History teach Steve Prescott said that NASA’s peak in the 1950s and 1960s, spurred early on by Kennedy and later in the century by President Reagan, set a gloomy, foreboding tone for futuristic science-fiction.

“With the development of the arms race and nuclear weapons and, more recently, suggestions about ‘Star Wars technology,’ which is SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) . . . during the Reagan administration, moving warfare to space has brought an even more scary, ominous tone to how long we’ll be left here on Earth,” Prescott said.

The vast number of achievements in the last half of the twentieth century has fueled science-fiction’s rocketing from the 1950s to 2010, according to junior Claire Molitors.

“Once the whole technological movement got rolling, then people started thinking, ‘Well, look at all these advancements we’ve made so quickly,’” Molitors said. “[They thought it would] be like a snowball effect, so it [would] keep rolling and rolling and rolling. But, it’s [recently] kind of hit a plateau of sorts.”

Corstanje said he feels that without the 1950s Space Race in America against the Soviet Union and the competitiveness of the Cold War, space technology and the classic forms of speculative fiction would not have emerged until much later.

“If there was no competition with Russia . . . Star Trek probably wouldn’t have come into fruition [until later and] Star Wars may have been pushed back, because there wouldn’t have been this fascination with space and the universe like there was then,” Corstanje said.

Because we haven’t reached 2001: A Space Odyssey’s predictions of moon habitation and Back to the Future Part II’s ideas of hoverboards and flying cars, Molitors said she thinks we have fallen short of science fiction authors’ predictions for 2010.

“[Science fiction writers] tried, kudos to them, but I don’t think they quite made it,” Molitors said.

Corstanje, on the other hand, said he thinks that we have beaten twentieth-century science-fiction writers’ predictions in some ways.

“They seemed kind of behind the times, because a lot of stuff they predicted, like robots, [and then the] Internet came out in the 90s,” Corstanje said. “It’s kind of a hit and miss [accuracy] . . . They’ve been accurate with other things and been way off [too].”

Allen said he is hopeful for what the future will bring, even though flying cars and life on other planets may look unattainable to us now.

“Are there scientific impossibilities?” Allen said. “Probably. But there [have] been a lot of those over the years that suddenly [are] not quite as impossible anymore.”

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