Monday, December 28, 2015

Tomorrow's Tech ... Today! #3

Tomorrow’s Tech … Today!

Many futuristic inventions have come to pass, while some may never be realized.

[Some of this was used as content for the Program Book of SoonerCon 24 in June 2015.  Hope you like the idea!]


          George Langelaan’s “The Fly” appeared in 1957, but an 1877 story “The Man Without a Body” posited matter transfer, beginning with a cat; then things go awry.  In 1913 Charles Fort coined the word “teleportation.”

          From Yu-Gi-Oh! to Star Trek to the Tarnhelm in Wagner’s Ring cycle, matter transfer seems to pose a myriad of problems that must be solved.  Larry Niven warned that things such as planetary rotation and inertia would affect a technologically based teleportation system.  Star Trek, while bandying such jargon as “boost your matter gain” and “wide-pattern dispersal,” isn’t much help either. 

           And what happens to a person’s soul when you destroy the original body?  Does it snap like a rubber band to the “new” body, as suggested by Philip José Farmer in his Riverworld  series?  Although we may never have a real-life matter transfer device, we’ll always have “Beam me up, Scotty.


            Zap beams have been a staple of SF because they’re so cool (in a totally destructive way).  Perhaps HG Wells’ 1898 Martian heat rays were the first, but they’ve become the Swiss Army Knife of SF.  More refined types can be set to Stun or Kill, as in Star Trek.  Others simply take you away faster than Calgon, with no intermediate steps, as demonstrated in Mars Attacks!

          While bad guys such as Ming the Merciless and the evil spies in Jonny Quest’s “Mystery of the Lizard Men” only want to lay waste, good guys such as Buck Rogers and Han Solo take a more surgical approach to the Blaster, the Zapper, the Phaser, or the Ray Gun (unless they SHOT FIRST). 

While LASER and MASER research continues in today’s world, nobody has yet reached the attainment of Duck Dodgers in the 24½ Century, featuring the Acme Disintegrating Pistol, which … disintegrated.

I’m taking off next Thursday for New Year’s.  See you January 4th!
All original content
© by Mark Alfred