Science Fiction Today – Hover Boards

I’ve been amused to hear that Hover Boards are finally showing up, that people have been pushing forward to create them. The deadline they were aiming for was the date from Back to the Future 2 last year. Which made Hover Boards like a prophecy: that they would happen in that year.

More than anything else in that movie, the Hover Board is what seems to have captured and held our collective imagination. Or maybe because it seems easier and more likely than flying cars or Jaws 19. Maybe because it’s a sellable commodity that you can hope to make a bunch of money off of – but no, I think more than that. It seems like a labor of love. Of trying to bring a bit of the “future” here to us now.

Because this world we’re living in – as we pass dates from future visions, like Days of Future Past and Back to the Future – looks nothing like what science fiction envisioned. And what did science fiction envision?

Thanks, Commander Sisko.

We were expecting flying cars. Hover Boards. Things that move us around faster. And space travel, moving us into the stars. What we got instead, as the commercial says (and which has stuck with me all these years) is the Internet. Or maybe, drones, which work as a networked extension of ourselves, rather than us moving ourselves.

Rather than transmitting ourselves via improved transportation, we’re transmitting ideas. Meaning that we get to both bring the world – information-wise – to us, and we get to send our ideas back out. In such a way as science fiction somewhat failed to predict. That’s part of the reason why something like Neuromancer (a 1984 novel) is seen as such a classic: it was far closer to right than wrong when it comes to predictions of the future. Certainly better than so much other science fiction.

I’m not saying the point of science fiction is to perfectly predict the future. Nor that it’s our job to try to build the future that has been predicted. Which makes the anecdote of the Hover Boards being created just in time for their “predicted” date just so interesting. It’s a little piece of trying to create not the future we’re building towards, but the future we dreamed up.

And so maybe, if we can perfect the Hover Board, we can create some of the other things science fiction has dreamed up. Or solve some of the other societal problems science fiction shows us moving past. Maybe we can avoid some of the pitfalls science fiction warns us of. Maybe, just maybe…

We can dream.

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