Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, December 22, 2010
This review is from: Your Flying Car Awaits: Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Century (Paperback)
Paul Milo's "Your Flying Car Awaits: Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Century," published in 2009, bears a good deal of thematic resemblance to a book that came out in 2007: "Where's My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived" by Daniel H. Wilson. But the newer book is the superior one.

While Wilson focuses solely on over-optimistic technological prognostications, Milo tackles much broader themes and explores them in far greater depth. The former aims primarily for the funny bone, usually referring to popular movies and TV series, but the latter seriously considers the many reasons that experts anticipated such rapid changes, both positive and negative, and the reasons these expectations were so hard to fulfill. He quotes scientists, historians, politicians, business leaders, and other people whose opinions were once so respected. In addition to technology, he addresses medical, ecological, social, political, domestic, and international predictions, and concludes with a chapter on those that actually came true. Finally, "Flying Car" is a much more substantial book at over 300 unillustrated pages, whereas "Jetpack" has less than 200 pages, only 125 of which have any print on them, the rest being filled with cheesy cartoon clip-art. (It is amusing, though.)

Here are only some of the many topics that "Your Flying Car Awaits" takes on: childbirth, cloning, diseases, transplants, life span, ESP, drugs, genetic engineering, cars that drive themselves, flying cars (as advertised), hypersonic planes, overpopulation, water supplies, climate, lunar colonies, space tourism, war in space, nuclear power, weather control, nuclear fusion, animal communication, cities, household appliances, communications, labor, leisure, education, the family unit, fashion, mind control, eugenics, war, world government, political parties, and the end of the world.

It's unfortunate that several Amazon reviewers have given low ratings to this fine book as a result of their own political biases or because they evidently did not bother to read it. It does lack an index, which would have been useful, but is so full of interesting ideas that I can't bear to downgrade it just for that. If you enjoy a wide-ranging, thought-provoking discussion of the past and want to appreciate the difficulties inherent in speculating about the future, this makes an excellent read. It will help to engender a healthy skepticism for the perennially overblown announcements from corporations, academics, and governments about developments coming "right around the corner." The next time you hear such shiny promises, you'll be less likely to salivate with anticipation or rush out to invest in the latest technology, and you'll be more likely to say, with a shrug, "I'm not holding my breath!"
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Reviewer

Thomas E. Davis
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Seattle, WA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 478