Whatever Happened to the Future?


When I was a nipper, the future was one of two fairly distinct things, either unspeakably bright and shiny, like a non-sarky film version of IGY, or a pox-ridden post-apocalyptic nightmare. Now the future just feels like bland mush on the horizon, neither shiny nor dread-inducing and the only thing we care about is having smaller phones. It’s very much fuck biodomes and jetpacks, hello to Twittering whilst editing your own films on your mp3 player. Or in essence, up yours to creating a more utopian social order, what gadgets have you got for me?

Which is a shame, because my favourite book when I was a child, and frankly when I’m not trying to impress anyone, one of my favourite books ever, is The Usborne Book of the Future, (although one development its authors didn’t see coming is that it would be scanned and available for free one day). The UBotF, as nobody called it, is very much a last hurrah for the sunny-minded futurologist, coming from a Back to the Future II kinda place rather than a rainy Bladerunner puddle.

Very much in the vein of that book is the fabulous website Paleo-Future, and I’ve picked some of my favourite moments from it to give you an idea of the giddy fun you can have over there.

#1 I Can Whip Any Mechanical Robot by Jack Dempsey

“Even right now, despite the fact that I am definitely through with the ring as a fighter, I wouldn’t be afraid of any robot or mechanical man. I could tear it to pieces, bolt by bolt and scatter its brain wheels and cogs all over the canvas.”

First of all, brain wheels? But what I mostly love about this article is the constant switching of tone from Dempsey being very humble and aware of his limitations and mortality to rampant anti-robot fighting talk.

#2 Maid Without Tears

This is just faintly upsetting. But the constant use of the word robot will soothe you like an idiotic metal mantra.

#3 Winter and Summer Fun!

Again, a little bit off this one. Am I the only that thinks that little boy is trapped in some kind of futuristic paedo-cage? I think the kid with the snowman is pretending not to notice. I also think that such conspicuous consumption would probably garner more than its fair share of loogies, bricks and jobbies over time.

Ah, the future. It’s just not what it was.


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