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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old October 11 2010, 11:10 PM   #1
TalkieToaster
Lieutenant Junior Grade
 
Most prescient works of science fiction

Predicting the future is hard, and science fiction is no exception: all the predictions that we'd have been to Mars and have bases on the Moon by now were wrong, but advances in electronic media have mostly exceeded expectations. So I was wondering what works of science fiction have done the best job predicting the future. I nominate John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, which was written in 1968 and takes place in, yes, 2010. In the story, China has overtaken the Soviet Union as America's main competitor, newspapers are declining and moving their content into other media, and people have digital avatars of themselves for entertainment, to name a few examples.
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Old October 11 2010, 11:49 PM   #2
diankra
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

One TV series I'd nominate is Star Cops.
Its depiction of 2027 with five major space stations, lots of independent small research station, plus a Moonbase and a small Mars base is obviously wrong now, but still valid as a possibility for 40 years time (the series was made in 1987).
But the big thing it got right was Box - a pocket computer that can act as a phone, access information anywhere in the world, and even predict what flights, books or hotel bookings you might like to make.
The slip is that Star Cops depicts Box as an expensive rarity in 2027, whereas here in 2010...
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Old October 12 2010, 12:25 AM   #3
Ensign_Redshirt
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Fahrenheit 451 for the accurate prediction of "reality TV" and its dumbening effect on viewers.

Robert J. Sawyer's novel FlashForward (published in 1999) features a Pope Benedict XVI. in the then-future year of 2009. You can't get more accurate than that.
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Old October 12 2010, 12:29 AM   #4
Silvercrest
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

"A Logic Named Joe" by Will F. Jenkins predicted home computers and the Internet in 1946. And they weren't portrayed as expensive rarities, either.
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Old October 12 2010, 12:35 AM   #5
JanewayRulz!
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

I don't know if this counts... but I'd offer up: "By the Waters of Babylon", a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/By_the_Waters_of_Babylon

After I read it as a teen, I was shocked to discover it was written before nuclear bombs were invented, before WWII. Which, by our standards would make "it" science fiction when it was written, although technically science "fact" in our post nuclear world of the last 60 years.
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Old October 12 2010, 02:34 AM   #6
Listener4
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Brave New World and 1984.
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Old October 12 2010, 03:05 AM   #7
Stevil2001
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

"The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forester. Written in 1926 about people who never interact with others in person because they have streaming video.
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Old October 12 2010, 03:19 AM   #8
Gaith
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Ray Bradbury's short story "The Murderer", which depicts a society in which people have become so attached to cell phones and other forms of connectivity that original thought is all but impossible.


JanewayRulz! wrote: View Post
I don't know if this counts... but I'd offer up: "By the Waters of Babylon", a short story by Stephen Vincent Benet...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/By_the_Waters_of_Babylon

After I read it as a teen, I was shocked to discover it was written before nuclear bombs were invented, before WWII. Which, by our standards would make "it" science fiction when it was written, although technically science "fact" in our post nuclear world of the last 60 years.
H.G. Wells beat him to nukes in fiction by twenty-three years.
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Old October 12 2010, 03:35 AM   #9
kes7
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Gattaca always struck me as prescient.
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Old October 12 2010, 05:35 AM   #10
Python Trek
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Listener4 wrote: View Post
Brave New World and 1984.
Yes. Less freedom, more collectivism, and the death of the individual.
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Old October 12 2010, 07:19 AM   #11
Myasishchev
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Did anyone saying BNW or 1984 look out a window beforehand?

I mean, if's a Brave New World, I want my soma, my fornication, my world state, and my job.

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I can't really think offhand of any truly prescient science fiction, in that it remotely accurately predicted the world of 2010. But I'm not surprised; who would want to write about a place so boring?
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Old October 12 2010, 10:51 AM   #12
Deckerd
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Myasishchev wrote: View Post
Did anyone saying BNW or 1984 look out a window beforehand?
Only one person said it.
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Old October 12 2010, 12:43 PM   #13
Nardpuncher
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Ensign_Redshirt wrote: View Post
Fahrenheit 451 for the accurate prediction of "reality TV" and its dumbening effect on viewers.

Robert J. Sawyer's novel FlashForward (published in 1999) features a Pope Benedict XVI. in the then-future year of 2009. You can't get more accurate than that.
With me having absolutely no knowledge of how it works, I'll wager that the names that popes are given is decided long beforehand and that someone could look it up easily on the Vatican's website.
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Old October 12 2010, 02:14 PM   #14
Ensign_Redshirt
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

Nardpuncher wrote: View Post
With me having absolutely no knowledge of how it works, I'll wager that the names that popes are given is decided long beforehand and that someone could look it up easily on the Vatican's website.
Each pope picks his own name after he is elected.


To quote from Wikipedia:

Ratzinger chose the pontifical name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed", in honour of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia. Pope Benedict XV was Pope during the First World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations. St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine Order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.
Benedict XVI explained his choice of name during his first General Audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27 April 2005:

“Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions![27]
Basically, Robert J. Sawyer made a lucky guess in 1999. Benedict is also one of seven papal names which have been used more than ten times so far (the other being John, Gregory, Clement, Innocent, Leo, and Pius). So much about the odds.

Last edited by Ensign_Redshirt; October 12 2010 at 02:29 PM.
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Old October 12 2010, 02:48 PM   #15
Nardpuncher
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Re: Most prescient works of science fiction

OK then. That is pretty neat and I apologize if I sounded jerky.
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