Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Future Starts Now

Are you a fan of  The Big Bang Theory? Well. yeah or nay, I'd like to refer you to The Physics of the Death Star which if you are in the right frame of mind reads like the script to an episode.

You can imagine Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj as the commenters with their counter arguments, then Penny steps in with comment 107:
"I wish that the people like #51 would take a step back and realize a few truths. One, it is only Science Fiction; until someone actually does it. Two, most of today's technology that we take for granted, in the 1960's and 70's were considered Science Fiction".
When I started playing Traveller and Laserburn based Sci Fi games in the late '70's this image (right) would have been a Sci Fi soldier. Perhaps more Blakes 7 than Star Wars but that's the outskirts of Mudd Eisley, right? And particularly so once Traveller Book 4: Mercenary appeared with its more grounded military focus.

You know, funnily, I never fully got the Merc thing. Too young to have experienced the Congo my only frame of reference was Angola which was a bit of a shambles.

Of course nowadays, we call them Contractors - private armies operating on behalf of shareholders. Never mind mobile phones that are also cameras, movie cinemas, GPS and more, much more, I am living the Science Fiction of my own childhood.

I remember Blue Peter from that time demonstrating a miniature TV in a watch. From Japan of course. I thought "Who would want to watch a TV on a screen the size of a watch". And today without thinking I'm watching the latest blockbusters or my favourite TV shows on an iTouch.

I worked for a major GB retailer and 16-17 years ago put a proposal forward to the IT Director that we needed to establish a web presence and set up an online catalogue - 17 years ago remember - I was greeted with disdain, The IT Director told me that "the Internet is only for geeks.... No one will ever shop via the Internet, people prefer to come into a shop to see and feel the goods".

Returning to our corporate soldier above. Sensors in his helmet monitor his brainwaves, breathing and physical indicators of his emotional state. At appropriate moments images appear in his visor showing the lifestyle he will be leading -  fast cars, luxury villas on Zegema Beach, Arcturian poontang.... all sponsored by J'Lo New You and Crusty Coke.

At moments of acute stress, a voice or image of his loved one, fanatsy girl, father, brother, school teacher, accordingh to his psych profile says "Proud of you son....." and exhorts him to do his best. Maybe it's a vid of a fallen comrade "Don't let me down 417. Get some for me!"....



  1. commissarmoody26 May 2011 at 13:39

    I like were your going with all this stuff, but I will say from my time in the service. The last thing you want when the bullets are flying is a picture of your dog Ranger, jumping into your view finder, saying "I wuv you". lol
    that being said, all that flash makes for great cinema, and I supposed in a world were your mind is plugged into the wireless, you would be used to the random visions and add verts in the corner of your eye.

  2. I so enjoy The Big Bang Theory too. It’s good to see someone else that likes the show too. It reminds me of my friends and I if we were doctors and an engineer and not paper pushers and cable guys, but I digress.

    I agree, many of the things we think of as sci-fi in the past have come to pass. When I was in the US navy, I was lucky to get a letter or two and a care package in the six months that my ship was deployed, but now sailors can chat with loved ones and buy themselves things online almost at will. Talk about a moral boost. And not to mention they no longer have to wear bell bottom degrees!

  3. Heya

    Interesting thoughts, poor buggers, the fan is spreading muck liberally about them and they're all stuck with an extra set of voices in their head.... especially if they contradict the voices already in their head :)

    I was always a bigger fan of Soldier, Child soldier type mentality where trained from birth without such a thing as moral code they become the ultimate in killing machine then have a visor with the anticipated result-training manual a la Demolition Cop and a social interaction guide for nom-coms.

    Why not throw in a good behaviour highly addictive drug as well, keep 'em loyal and to boot its cost are deducted from their wage... course far as they're concerned it's vit32a new improved adrenaline :)

    Physics of a deathstar... using todays science to explain that of something that is currently beyond that arrogance, stupidity or an exercise in humility or the hope of getting lucky :)
    I wonder what would happen if two planets were to occupy the a single point in space, or say a star and a planet. If two overlapping identical dimensions were to touch one another for a breif moment at a singular point or two points in the same plane etc etc etc after all "witness the true power of fully operational deathstar" doesn't really describe what it does or how it does it... i don't think they even said it's a laser.... i thought that was an observation made by the rebels and therefore possibly mis-informed. Perhaps it uses the reverse technology of the ship from Titan AE.

    Anyway enough rambling...

    Happy posting :)

  4. The 'drug' turns them into a goddamn sexual tyrannousaurous - at leats that's what Gunny tells them.

    Arrogance or fun taken too seriously - must be wargamers!


  5. Talking about SF from our childhood becoming a reality... William Gibson hinted at television (and internet) programming that made celebrities out of almost everybody - predating reality TV by a good decade!

    Advertising techniques and technology look more and more like something out of a cyberpunk novel every day (take another look at Spielberg's Minority Report for a view of *some* things to come).

    Great post - I love the idea of "motivational messaging" in a soldier's HUD... funny and sad at the same time.

  6. @Ripsey Indeed, it's telling that William Gibson has stopped writing about the future and is now writing about the present. Basically what he imagined when he wrote the Sprawl and (to an even greater extent) the Bridge trilogies has come to pass. We're now living in Gibson's future!

    Hmm... it reminds me that I still hasn't read Spooks.

  7. Grr... I meant Zero History. :P

  8. @Martin, I haven't read either yet :( I have so many books to read... ugh.

    But I'm curious as to how Gibson's version of a corporate future will "scale up" into the far-future?

    In Alien/Aliens we get a glimpse of how the corporations control space travel (nations, not so much), which seems really interesting to me! It's a great world to set a mini game in (and in fact I've been working on that universe!) - where the primary motivation of space exploration is profit and plunder!

  9. In our current world, corporations are bigger than countries. Some national military interests have already been handed over to corporate military organisations.

    In the UK, the govt is prepared to sell off everything to the private sector. Heather made a point recently that the reason we are no longer going to the moon is because there's no profit in moon rock..... says it all.


  10. sheldon rocks ... but the moon is apparently man made - it makes a drum like sound when hit by meteorites ...

  11. My friends and associates get sick of hearing me say, "It's pretty cool living in the future, isn't it?" But it's actually how I feel.

    I think people of my generation (just saying that makes me feel old) are experiencing something that no generation before us has - our speculative fiction caught up with us and kept going.

    The world I live in today surrounds me with things that I read about 20 to 30 years ago and firmly believed would come about - but not necessarily while I was still young enough to enjoy them. Like Gibson, I find myself on the shore of my own imagination and I'm fascinated by the NOW that used to be TOMORROW.