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Books that Predict the Future

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Guest toolzgeek

I was wondering if anyone has read books that they feel predicted the future -- you know, were written ahead of their time. I just finished Discipline by Paco Ahlgren, and I must admit, I was surprisingly shocked by some of the subjects this author touched on, especially since it was written over 7 years ago. What he wrote about is exactly what is going on today with our economy and the US dollar. Coincidence? Insight? He's an intelligent man with a history of being educated in finance and physics, but still... I can't help but wonder just how he knew, if he knew at all.

 

I also heard some speak of George Orwell's 1984 as being a book that predicted the future.

 

Any others?

 

Anyone read Discipline that has an opinion?

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Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale describes a possible future. When written it was set in the then near future and was surprisingly shocking as it was quite believable. The book portrays a possible progression of our own society and is often compared with 1984.

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Hi toolzgeek, welcome to BGO.  Why don't you go over to "please introduce yourself" and tell us more about yourself and what you enjoy reading.

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Guest AvidReader

"Books That Predict the Future" would seem to be science fiction, so I have moved the thread into this forum.

 

Perhaps, but not necessarily, what about books dealing with changes in society and economics? Those are often equally as predictive of the future as science fiction - which btw I think on the whole does not attempt to predict the future, but merely describe possibilities on occasion. Isaac Asimov is one of the few (because of his science background) modern sci-fi authors whose works are somewhat predictive. Going back in time Jules Verne is another that has come to be viewed as  'predictive', although I would suggest that he was merely indulging in wild flights of fantasy and could not personally have had any inkling that the technology would become real. It was too far out of the future for him to predict.

 

Other authors that are 'predictive' are Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451 in particular - but not for the sci-fi, but rather certain aspects of the society. And that I will suggest was more predictive than most as he was deliberately exploring matters that were already an issue when he wrote the book, but because we failed to take note of them as a global society here we are with NSA spying on every keystroke on the internet, bugging telephones, and detention without trial under the Homeland Security Act. Read the book then get scared, get very scared. 

 

I know that 1984 is often put forward as predictive but is it? The kind of mass indoctrination that is described was already present in the world when it was written. Orwell was more concerned with warning of the dangers totalitarian and communist societies than anything else and those things were very much present issues at the time of writing. 

 

I think that a book like Bonfire of the Vanities is also predictive - it describes the disillusionment when the glitter of money wears off - and isn't that exactly what has happened? The glitter of making money hand over fist wore off and the disillusionment of reality set in putting us in our current economic crisis. I don't think that the author intended it to be predictive (as I doubt many do) but nonetheless if I look back at that book, there is in it, a whiff of the future in it.

 

Tom Clancy is another author that comes to mind - In Debt of Honour he "predicted" a 9-11 type attack which I believe he may not be alone in 'predicting'. 

Edited by AvidReader

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Perhaps, but not necessarily, what about books dealing with changes in society and economics?

You could be right - sometimes it's really difficult to decide which forum is the best fit for a book/subject. This was the second move for this thread, but I'm quite prepared to move it again.

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Hi Toolzgeek,  that is an interesting starter post and it struck a particular chord with me this week although it doesn't really answer your question.

 

 I have been reading an alternate history series set in an England of the 80's by Jasper Fforde and quote the following extracts from the first one called The Eyre Affair: -
 
"This is the midday news on Monday 6th May 1985, and this is Alexandria Belfridge reading it.  The Crimean Peninsula has again come under scrutiny this week as the United Nations passed resolution PN17296, insisting that England and the Imperial Russian Army open negotiations concerning sovereignty.  As the Crimean War enters its one hundred and thirty first year, pressure groups both at home and abroad are pushing for a peaceful end to hostilities. ..................
 
later quote
 
"It didn't fit into my idea of what a just war should be. Pushing Nazis out of Europe had been just.  The fight over the Crimean peninsula was nothing but xenophobic pride and misguided patriotism."

 

The history background is incidental to the plot and in this case the "xenophobic pride and misguided patriotism" is being applied to England, but it was a strange coincidence in view of recent events, although not intended in any way as predictive by the author. :wonder:

 

 

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"Books That Predict the Future" would seem to be science fiction, so I have moved the thread into this forum.

 

Hardly. It has just been pointed out that "Command Authority", the latest novel which Tom Clancy has published before his death, almost exactly predicts the current upheaval in the Ukraine including the demonstrations on Maldan Square and the crisis on the Crimea. This is definitely not Science Fiction, though.

 

Here is a goodie which I discovered myself two weeks ago:

In the 1940s, Edmond Hamilton, author of the "Captain Future" pulp SF series, described Pluto as being orbited by three moons which he named Charon, Cerberus and Styx. Now look at this:

 

587px-Pluto_moon_P5_discovery_with_moons

 

Three out of five makes for a good marksman, I suppose. Particularly since Charon was named in 1978 and the other two in 2012!

Edited by Romanike

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That was a good find, Romanike, maybe Edmond Hamilton used the same logic as the IAU have used in link below, ie associated with the Underworld because of Pluto,

http://www.iau.org/public_press/news/detail/iau1303/



Alternatively, as many space scientists and astronomers probably enjoy reading SF the original proposers may have had "Captain Future" in mind.

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Alternatively, as many space scientists and astronomers probably enjoy reading SF the original proposers may have had "Captain Future" in mind.

So, we could say that some books influence the future.

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Guest AvidReader

So, we could say that some books influence the future.

 

One jolly well hopes so but as for "predicting" I think in some instances the knowledge of the author in certain fields of science, technology, sociology and economics may enable them to 'predict' future possibilities. Some are better at it than others. As far as 'predictions' like Tom Clancy's are concerned - well truly how much foresight went into saying the giant towers in New York were a possible target? I'm sure any one with any reasonable amount of brain power can look at any map of any city and pick out the most likely targets for an attack.  Other 'predictions' I think were just blind luck - out of the number of books written some had to get some things right. 

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Which reminds me that in James Blish's "Cities in Flight" novels, written in 1955 to 1962, I came on a curious remark concerning New York's UN building having been annihilated by terrorists.

 

It is strange, however, that Hamilton came up with the idea of giving Pluto several moons at all. After all, Pluto itself had just been discovered a decade before and close to nothing about it had been known yet.

Edited by Romanike

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Which reminds me that in James Blish's "Cities in Flight" novels, written in 1955 to 1962, I came on a curious remark concerning New York's UN building having been annihilated by terrorists.

 

It is strange, however, that Hamilton came up with the idea of giving Pluto several moons at all. After all, Pluto itself had just been discovered a decade before and close to nothing about it had been known yet.

 

 

That's why I said statistically some just had to get it right - out of all the science fiction books ever written that mention how many moons any given planet has - eventually some one will make a good guess. It isn't prescient, its statistical luck.

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I have read now on why the two Pluto moons are Kerberos and Styx. The IAU had made it a popular contest where people could vote for names, either out of a list of twelve, including Hercules, Obol, Orpheus or Eurydice, besides Cerberus and Styx; or submitting further suggestions, In the end they picked the second and third most popular suggestions, turning down "Vulcan" which does not match the desired pattern. So, while I wouldn't fully exclude the possibility that Kerberos and Styx were supported by a conspiracy of Captain-Future-fans, no explicit reference to Hamilton's stories was made.

 

BTW, Hamilton proposed a fourth Pluto moon in a later novel and called it Dis - not an exact hit but pretty close to the real name Nyx (that should have read Nix), again discovered decades after him!

Edited by Romanike

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Just to say that toolzgeek, who started this thread, posted elsewhere on the forum about this book again and is not interacting on the site in any other capacity. Consequently, I've banned him as I think he/she is a spammer rather than a genuine poster. 

 

However, as their first post has triggered some interesting discussion, this thread will remain in place.

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And we cannot forget "The Sheep Look Up", by John Brunner, written in 1972. When I find relevant news items, I keep them and slip them into the book. Right now I have newspaper articles from 2012 onwards on: decimation of honeybees; climate effect on plankton; dead pigs threaten Shanghai waters; environmental emergency in Peru's rainforest; air pollution crisis in Beijing - all of which, and more, helped to create Brunner's world of the future.

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