I was born in the Fifties. Growing up in the sixties, I never dreamed my everyday world would one day contain the technologies it does today.
When I got married in the seventies, every grocery item wore a price sticker, and the cashier had to key in each price. If you’d have told me that in just a few years, an electronic scanner would read them all, and another electronic gizmo would deduct the amount of my purchase from my checking account, I’d have thought you read more science fiction than was good for you. Now, between computers that keep track of your buying habits so they can spit out a coupon tailored to your history and projected needs – satellite TV and radio – GPS devices and Google Earth – email and the Internet – smart phones, smart boards – seems like everything’s smarter than me.
And I think I can write science fiction?
The first two books in my “Gateway to Gannah” series, Story in the Stars and Words in the Wind, involve a bit of space travel. Nevertheless, I consider the stories fantasy, not science fiction, because there’s no scientific basis for any of it. In the third book, Ransom in the Rock, the setting in some parts is a little different, requiring me to envision everyday life in the future on earth. It’s proving a challenge.
While trying to exercise my creaky, old-school imagination, I remembered a quote by a commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office in the late 1800s, who allegedly resigned from his position because “Everything that can be invented has already been invented.” Wanting to make sure I quoted him accurately (a wise precaution, given my fifties-born memory), I looked it up online (SciFi in action!), only to learn that no one from the Patent Office ever said that, according to a knowledgeable-sounding report.
Notwithstanding, my crusty brain wonders: what’s left?
More medical breakthroughs would be welcome, but do we really need any more household gadgets? The older appliances worked better and held up longer than the new ones, so a trend toward quality and durability would be nice. And, of course (and I probably should list this first, not as an afterthought) we’re truly in need of practical energy sources other than fossil fuels – and I’m not talking about ethanol, either. Food is to eat, not burn in our cars.
All this to say, if you’re looking for nifty gizmos or forward-thinking technologies in my books, you’ll be disappointed, because my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m still trying to figure out how to set the clock on the VCR for Daylight Savings Time.
Yes, I did say VCR, not DVD player. Like I said, I was born in the fifties, when TVs were all in black-and-white, and we only had three channels to watch, but I seldom watched it anyway because I had better things to do. Well, that’s one thing that hasn’t changed – I still don’t watch much TV. Maybe that’s what stunted my imagination.
Is there a point to all this? Not really. Mostly I’m just trying to stimulate my brain. What’s a technology you’d like to see in the future?