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Ways Science Fiction Has Predicted the Future

by Chris Duesing

If you had to break down what all science fiction novels have in common, you could say that they all imagine endless possibilities for both our world and new realities. When it comes to the realities, it imagines for our world… well, sometimes they come true. If you’re wondering about the many ways science fiction has predicted the future, then this article is for you!

Science fiction, largely due to the vast number of possibilities it predicts, sometimes accurately depicts future scenarios. From a novel that predicted the crash of the Titanic fourteen years before the ship set sail to novels that predicted the internet and artificial intelligence years in advance, there are many ways sci-fi has accurately predicted the future.

If you’re interested in novels that have predicted the future – or should we say our reality – then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll look at eight different novels that predicted different aspects of the reality we all currently live in.

Novels That Predicted the Future

When it comes down to science fiction novels that predicted the future, here are our top picks!

Futility, or: Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson

You might already be aware of Morgan Robertson’s novel published in 1898 because of the tragic incident this novel seemed to predict. The events of Robertson’s novel had an unnerving correlation to the sinking of the RMS Titanic fourteen years after the publication of Futility.

The ocean liner in Robertson’s eerie novel, named Titan, is described as “the largest craft afloat”. If you weren’t aware, at the time it set sail, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship around. That’s only the tip of the iceberg – literally. The Titan in Robertson’s novel, you guessed it, strikes an iceberg much like the Titanic famously did fourteen years later.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

From wireless earphones to reality television, there are a few things Fahrenheit 451 predicted about modern life. The chances are that you read this novel at some point during school, but if you haven’t, it’s worth checking out – and not only due to the predictions it makes.

Without spoiling anything about Bradbury’s seminal novel published in 1953, here’s a prediction the novel made that came true. In the novel, Bradbury introduces the concept of “thimble radios”, which were described as tiny portable audio devices that resembled seashells. More than half a century later, we have many brands of wireless earphones – such as Apple’s AirPods – readily available on the market.

Neuromancer by William Gibson

When it comes to the prediction William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer made… well, it’s something that is used more than wireless earphones even. You’re using it right now to read this article: the internet. This means that Gibson predicted the internet roughly half a decade before Timothy Berners Lee would introduce the world to what we know today as the internet.

In fact, Gibson’s writing has been praised for how its helped shape our perception of technology. Not only did Gibson actually coin the phrase ‘cyberspace’, but he also actually introduced the concept in a short story, Burning Chrome, published in 1982, two years prior to his debut novel, Necromancer. Talk about a memorable first novel!

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark

The advent of the internet has given rise to many new forms of technology. There’s particular technology that we all use every day in many different ways – and this was actually foreshadowed long before William Gibson would eventually predict the internet. Arthur C. Clark’s 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and the infamous Stanley Kubrick movie adaption, which was filmed while Clark wrote the novel, predicted what we today refer to as Artificial Intelligence.

In both the film and novel, a supercomputer known as HAL-9000 overseas a spacecraft where it has been instructed to hide the true nature of the mission from the astronauts. Chaos ensues, and this novel predicts some of the pitfalls of artificial intelligence that are still being debated today.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

In many ways, Aldous Huxley predicted the future of medication. In his cult 1932 novel, Brave New World, Huxley introduces his readers to a pill called ‘Soma’, which is a happiness-producing pill that can cure a variety of mental illnesses, from anxiety to depression and more. This could describe many modern medicines today, such as antidepressants.

It would be another two decades after the publication of Huxley’s seminal novel before the world would see the first clinical introductions to two antidepressant drugs, Iproniazid and Imipramine. At least according to Huxley’s novel, we’re all certainly living in a brave new world. This is required reading if you haven’t read this yet!

Cyborg by Martin Caidan

Published in 1972, Martin Caidan’s Cyborg predicted a different intersection between medicine and technology. For those not familiar with this classic novel, it follows a test pilot named Steve Austin, who is terribly disfigured after an accident that leaves him blind in one eye, with all of his limbs destroyed. That is until a technological miracle happens!

Thanks to a secret government program, Steve Austin is rebuilt with bionic limbs. From legs that allow him to run at great speeds to his bionic left arm that gives him great strength, this novel was published more than two decades before the first bionic arm transplant. The novel remains topical today, with many people expressing fears over advanced prosthetics.

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

This one hits a little close to home amidst the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Sarah Pinsker’s 2019 novel eerily predicts the world we find ourselves in a mere two years after the publication of A Song for a New Day. In this science fiction novel, an international pandemic caused by a deadly virus results in the banning of public gatherings… starting to sound familiar?

In this world, which has some eerie resemblances to our own currently, music concerts are now illegal. Unless you’re one of the few willing to break the law for a chance to find real human connection through a love of music. While this prediction might be a little fresh for some people’s liking, Pinsker’s novel might just leave you feeling hopeful about the power of both music and human connection.

The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov is the famed writer of I, Robot, which was published in 1950, wherein he proposed what is today referred to as Asimov’s Laws. These laws themselves – which Asimov proposed in his fiction for the successful interaction between humans and robots – are quite prophetic when we think about how technology has evolved in recent decades. Just watch an episode of Westworld!

However, another one of Asimov’s books also made a major prediction, one that is still unfolding. Asimov wasn’t just interested in the future of robotics, you see. From hints at future energy weapons to ideas about infinite parallel universes that are only today being explored, there are many uncanny predictions made about quantum physics in The End of Eternity that are still unfolding today as more research is done by scientists. Watch this space…

Conclusion

The list of predictions science fiction novels have made that have come true is a long one! From predictions about the internet and the technology we use today to predictions about theoretical concepts that are still being explored and everything in between, the list goes on and on. In this article, we just looked at eight classic novels that predicted aspects of our modern reality.

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Chris Duesing
Author
Chris Duesing

I am a photographer, writer, entrepreneur, and programmer living in the great city of Chicago. I love to solve problems with technology and share what I have learned along the way.