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2011/06/27

I Keep Telling People!

This guy on Reddit points out that, in 1996, a simple statement of many of our regular lives would be taken as science fiction.
Mary pulled out her pocket computer and scanned the datastream. It established contact with satellites screaming overhead, triangulated her position, and indicated there was an available car just a few blocks away; she swiped her finger across the glass screen to reserve it. A few minutes later, she spotted the little green hatchback and tapped her bag against the door to unlock it. "Bummer," she said as she glanced at her realtime traffic monitor. "Accident on the Bay Bridge. I'll have to take the San Mateo. Computer, directions to Oakland airport. Fastest route." Meanwhile, she pulled up Kevin's flight on the viewscreen. The plane icon was blipping over the Sierra Nevadas and arrival would be in half an hour. She wrote him a quick message: "Running late. Be there soon. See if you can get a pic of the mountains for our virtual photospace."
This is not a new thought. I worked in a used bookstore during my first sojourn in academia, around the summer of 1991, five years before the point in question. At that time, I was big into cyberpunk science fiction. Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. I was putting things away, cleaning up the place, when I saw a book centered upon a computer hacker. It wasn't in the science fiction section. It wasn't even in the true crime section like Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg. It was in mystery. That was the point where science fiction stopped being about futurism for me.