Great Minds, Great predictions: A look at the prophecies by these 6 visionary authors
Arthur Clarke, a known forward thinker had once remarked that, if some miracle led a prophet to describe the future exactly as it would unfold, he would be laughed off since his predictions would sound far-fetched in the current scheme of things. For mere mortals like us, the vast technological strides our world has made were definitely beyond the scope of imagination, some decades back. Yet, there have been visionaries who were much ahead of the times and whose predictions at times turned out to be uncannily accurate. These six visionaries saw the future, much ahead of us and predicted things which are a reality today.
For most of us Mark Twain is the much loved author who gave us unforgettable characters such as Huckleberry Finn. However, less well known fact is that he dabbled occasionally in the genre of science fiction and what is even lesser known is that it was Twain who first conceived the idea of a worldwide network for communication or the internet. In his futuristic short story titled “From the “London Times’ in 1904,” Twain describes an invention called the “telelectroscope,” and talks about how “it was connected with the telephonic systems of the whole world. The improved “limitless-distance’ telephone was presently introduced, and the daily doings of the globe made visible to everybody, and audibly discussable too”. Uncannily like the internet today, isn’t it?
Bradbury is best known for his 1953 novel “Fahrenheit 451. In the society described in this book, the people sport “seashells” and “thimble radios” which they used to communicate with each other, not dissimilar to today’s earphones and bluetooth headsets. This prescience is really interesting when seen in the context of the fact that at the time that Ray wrote his masterpiece, the headphones were large, ungainly devices weighing over a ton. The characters in his novel also make use of a machine providing round the clock financial information, much similar to today’s ATM machines. Possibly the most interesting and eerily correct predictions of his would be, the ‘digital wall’ that people in his novel used to communicate, quite like our facebook walls, what say?
Now let’s take a peek into the world of money and finance. We today thrive in a truly global economy, with e-banking making it possible to access our money from anywhere. One can imagine the financial dealings back in the 19th century were not as easy, but it was in his novel “Looking Backward’ published in 1888, that writer Edward Bellamy introduced the concept of “universal credit.” In this utopian novel, the citizens are provided with a card that allows them to spend from a central bank without any currency being exchanged.
One of the most famous sci-fi writers, Jules Verne was a visionary beyond compare. In his famous book, ‘From the earth to the moon’, he correctly predicted many aspects of the manned lunar landing, that came more than a century after his works were published. Verne had his astronauts, in the book, be launched from Florida, the actual site of Apollo 11 launch and was quite accurately able to spell out the force needed to propel the rocket out of Earth’s atmosphere and even the exact number of crew members.
In his 1914 book, ‘The world set free’ HG Wells conceptualized “atomic bombs” that had the characteristic of continual explosion, harnessing the power of radioactivity. He was correctly able to predict the mushroom cloud we associate with atomic bombs. He was even able to describe an automated door in his book The Sleeper Awakes (1899), when science could make it a reality only in the 1960s.
James R Berry
While Berry was primarily a teen sci-fiction writer, in 1968 he penned an article titled ’40 years in the future’. Sample how he imagined this future in his own words. “Computers not only keep track of money, they make spending it easier. TV-telephone shopping is common. Instead of being jostled by crowds, shoppers electronically browse through the merchandise of any number of stores.” When James Berry wrote these lines, the world’s first personal computer had just been invented and internet and teleshopping were things unheard of.