Book Review: Where’s my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived by Daniel H. Wilson


We live in the 21st-Century, that magical century heralded in the past century as The Future, yet The Future has been somewhat disappointing. Where’s my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived (2007) by Daniel H. Wilson recounts all the great inventions promised to an eager public by science fiction, comic books, World’s Fairs, and documentaries that seemingly have never come to pass.  Wilson goes through several of these fantastic devices and describes what advances have actually been made and tells how several of them actually exist.  Albeit in less than fantastic guises or far to expensive/exclusive for the general populace.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • The jetpack, which works, just not for very long due to fuel limitations.
  • The zeppelin which once sailed elegantly through the sky until the Hindenberg disaster, but may be making a return.
  • Teleportation which is possible with particles if not with human beings.
  • Underwater hotels: one exists but it’s not very luxurious.  More luxurious hotels are in the works.
  • Anti-Sleeping pills are available under the brand name Provigil (I’m tempted to get a prescription).
  • The Space Elevator is theoretically possible and Wilson suggests we submit our plans to the Spaceward Foundation and win a prize (Hey, there’s a space elevator blog too!).
  • And a Moon Colony?  It’s in the works!

This is a fun little book with a good mix of science and humor that will appeal to anyone’s inner geek.

Author Wilson, Daniel H. (Daniel Howard), 1978-
Title Where’s my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived / Daniel H. Wilson ; illustrated by Richard Horne.
Publication Info. New York : Bloomsbury USA : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c2007.
Edition 1st U.S. ed.
Description 192 p. : ill. ; 20 cm.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Where’s my jetpack? : a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived by Daniel H. Wilson

  1. Well, there are some logistical problems with jetpacks and teleportation.

    If you have a flying car (something that already exists), you have safety and backup systems. If your jetpack blows up or has a short, it’ll send you plummeting to the ground with no backup. It’s just too dangerous of a device to use which is why the US military abandoned the idea in the 1970s.

    And teleportation is hindered by a major problem. The fastest speed of anything in the universe is the speed of light. No matter how you make it work, there will still be actual travel involved and that travel can only be made at 1c at the most.

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  2. I certainly don’t require instantaneous teleportation. If I could get from home to work at the speed of light I’d be quite content. Heck, any distance between two points on Earth would be pleasant at that speed.

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  3. I can remember a few of these claims being made about what’s in store for the future many years ago. I hadn’t really given any thought to seeing/checking into whether any had played out though.

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