Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2014/08/18/whatever-happened-to-the-world.html
Brian Fies’s 2012 graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? expresses a beautiful, melancholic and hopeful longing for (and suspicion of) the futuristic optimism of America’s 20th century, starting with the 1939 World’s Fair. Cory Doctorow finally got caught up with the future and read it.


Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

the military-industrial complex and corporatism

Pretty much that. Which probably is also a big part of what made technology that made us dream of utopia possible in the first place.


The one thing that always annoys me about things lamenting the end of the traditional Jetsons-style “world of tomorrow” is that we did get a world of tomorrow way, way, cooler than mere flying cars and rocketships. Futurists and SF writers (with the possible exception of John Brunner) completely missed how ubiquitous computing would enhance our lives. Given a choice between the Internet and flying cars and people planting flags on Mars, I’d take the Internet any day.


Internet without the surveillance, classism and warmongering would be nice.


Well, no. Like every big marketing campaign, it was an elaborate scam, relying heavily on bait-and-switch.




I’m personally disappointed by the lack of girls in togas. Where the hell is Olivia Newton-John?


Shut up, Terry.


1939-1975, the time period of the comic was about as long as you could be an optimistic United Statesian. The Vietnam war was not quite lost, the price of energy was still cheap, we had the totalitarian Soviets which we could try not to copy. New developments like the Shuttle and Concorde were coming online and we were all sure that Mars exploration was coming soon as we left the moon behind. Military and civil aircraft and cars were still showing substantial jumps in performance across the envelope.
At this point in history since say 2000 the only amazing future stuff we are reaping is as a direct result of Moores law, even the few remaining amateur radio satellites are getting less awesome.
Was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure the last common piece of popular media to present an amazing and totally awesome jetpack future within our lifetime rather than some cyberpunk corporate thugocractic dystopia?


In my opinion it’s important to know that we are all existing in the deep future already. Therefore, we get to experience what the deep future really feels like. Not the future of our current present, but a utterly realistic deep future of everything that has come before us. If at any point you’re feeling in the mood to do so, the next time you’re driving your car, I recommend you imagine you’re from the past, and that you’ve been given the opportunity to touch and operate an incredibly complex machine from the future. Take a look at the symbols on the dash, feel the curves of the seat, be amazed by how you can accelerate your own personal ship to incredible speeds with your feet. It’s eye-opening when you can really get in that zone.


I fully agree but still feel along with the thrill of flying rather than driving a twang of disappointment in the cockpit of an airplane of all places when I realize that except for the GPS almost all of the instruments I am using are at best updated WW-II tech. Even many jets are all dials and let you know that the tech is really 30-70 years old even if they cover it over with a brand new Garmin glass cockpit. When I go out flying it is as much aviationpunk retro as it is the future; I can still only pretend that I am in a transatmospheric shuttle of my childhood dreams, even scaled composites is still in a prototype stage to repeat stuff NASA and the USAF were doing in the early to mid 60s.
(edit) then I see this and think that the future is pretty cool and there might be enough demand to get my heli license. http://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelhennessey/2014/06/25/new-smartphone-app-allows-users-to-instantly-reserve-helicopter-rides-to-the-hamptons/


Don’t forget Eloi chicks.


As with most headlines posed as a question, the answer is probably ‘No’,


We are already living in the future. REJOICE!


One of the classic uTube videos: The Astounding World of the Future

I often get odd looks when I exclaim “Thank you Mr Robut Banker” when I use the ATM…


I’ll take a look at this if/when I see it in a comics shop, but it seems to be a composite of a lot of things that I’ve already seen: “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, a Superman story written by Alan Moore on the eve of the character’s mid-eighties revision that served as an elegy for the Silver Age Superman, not to mention Moore’s version of Marvelman/Miracleman; “The Gernsback Continuum”, the William Gibson story that Cory alludes to; Cap Crater’s suit, which evokes Buzz Lightyear’s suit; and even Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, part of which is set in the 1893 Columbian Exposition. But even if it is a bit derivative, those are some pretty heavyweight influences, and like I said, I’ll take a look if I get the chance.

closed #17

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