Novels that Predicted the Future

By Alicia Ballard

 

The Golden Age of Science Fiction has been recognized as the time-period between 1938 to 1946. With technology developing by leaps and bounds, it gave great inspiration to the authors of that time. The future seemed bright and terrifying to those experiencing movies with sound, home televisions, radios, frozen dinners, computers, and much more.

Things we use in our daily lives opened an entirely new set of doors of possibility. A few creative men and women were brave enough to peer through these doors and write down what they saw. Although we have surpassed many time periods featured without touching the surface of the novels in question, like George Orwell’s 1984, some predictions turned out to be very accurate.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In this dystopian novel, Bradbury imagines a world in which books have become illegal and Firemen start fires instead of putting them out. Many aspects of the characters’ daily lives closely reflect ours. Our reliance on technology, the separation and loneliness it can create, intermingle below the surface of a story fighting to keep the printed word alive in a sea of lighted screens.

Interactive Televisions: Bradbury predicted a version of virtual reality that closely resembles what we have now. Large television screens, interactive games that feel so real it relieves the loneliness in its users. Although our televisions do not take up the whole room yet, Bradbury was fairly accurate in his assumption of our reliance on television and entertainment.

Seashells/Thimble Radios: In 1953, the year the novel was published, radios were clunky and rarely portable. Bradbury envisioned a world where music and broadcasts were so influential to our society that we had to create devices to carry it with us at all times. Small speakers that fit into our ears and transmitted sound directly into our heads for private listening. The only major difference between Bradbury’s Seashells and our earphones is that our music and broadcasts (podcasts) are streamed over the internet rather than radio waves.

 

Looking Backward by Edward Bellamylooking backward by edward bellamy

This 1888 novel envisions a utopia where the economy has been restructured to eliminate poverty. A young man by the name of Julian West is hypnotized and falls asleep for 113 years, after waking he finds a perfect world. With the help of a Doctor Leete, West discovers what has happened to the world he once knew.

Credit Cards: In this perfect economy, Bellamy pictured a card that could be used to make purchases in place of currency, over two decades before credit became widespread in America. The only major difference being Bellamy’s Credit Cards were given an allowance of money rather than a charge limit that had to be paid back.

 

1984 by George Orwell1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s 1949 dystopian novel is a very bleak outlook on the future. Although we have surpassed it in time, many argue that the elements of the story mirror our own present very well. We may not be required to own a television by law, but nearly 97% of Americans have at least one television in their home.

Newspeak: Newspeak is the mincing, blending, and changing of words and phrases to make new and efficient words. This might sound like Science Fiction mumbo-jumbo to you, but most Americans actually do this in their day-to-day life. We call this modern “Newspeak” Text-Talk.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke2001 a space odyssey by arthur c. clarke

The 1968 novel follows the spacecraft Discovery and its crew on their mission to Saturn. An AI super computer controls the vessel by the name of HAL 9000.

HAL 9000: In 2019, the year this blog post is written, artificial intelligence is not a new concept. Humans live their day-to-day lives surrounded by AI. We carry AI personal assistants in our pockets, they run our homes, and are tucked away in every corner of our society. With our reliance on technology, we are forming into a society that many authors have warned us about.

 

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

In this 1870 novel, Captain Nemo and his crew explore the deepest parts of the ocean, encountering many wonders and dangers.

Electric Submarine: Although submarines were not a new concept, many of the features of the Nautilus were considered science fiction nonsense, but are now used in modern designs.  

 

People may argue that the science fiction novels listed here may have influenced our growing technology. That could be true, but to the authors penning the novels the future was bright and full of opportunity.

 

Bonus:

The JetsonsJetsons

Visaphone: In 1962 it was a day dream that phones would be able to display images. Today it is a commonplace reality with FaceTime, Skype, and other forms of video calls.

 

Star TrekStar Trek

Various: Some may argue that the popular science fiction show may have inspired technology, but the similarities are uncanny. Things like the Food Replicator (3D Printed Food), Universal Translator, Tablets, Voice Activation (Siri, Alexa, etc.), and many more.