Understand the tragic {present}, by peering into the sci-fi {past}…

The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1977)
Click here to enlarge for better readability (5mb JPEG) or get the printable PDF version (1.4mb)

Thanks to my Australian friend, John Larkin, we have one such reference on our present tragic state of the world, as a prediction from science fiction of the past.

The conversation started after he saw my receipt showing rising fuel prices. I’ve scribbled his talking points on the left corner of the scanned pages above, which you can enlarge for better readability (5mb jpeg)…

@brainopera Fuel and food riots around the planet. Sixties and seventies science fiction becoming a reality.

@brainopera Mark of Gideon episode of Star Trek 1969. Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison. Space Merchants – 1967. Logan’s Run.

@brainopera Shall scan an article for you that I read way back in 1977 on this issue. Has a great bibliography

“I first came across the term interface in this book I think. It is still an amazing book and well ahead of its time in terms of layout, etc. It used 2.0 style numbering system long before anyone else I guess.”
– John

Looking at these wondrously illustrated pages, I feel as if our society’s well of imagination has dried up. We don’t see anything as fantastically bold anymore; everything we experience today seem to play on what already works, from memes to commercials. I feel jaded.

In any case, you can re-live the experiences from this ancient text, as it is still available for sale online:

The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
Editor: Brian Ash
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Pan Books, 1977
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0 330 25275 5

UPDATE: I’ve now made the scanned pages as a printable PDF (1.4mb). Enjoy!

5 thoughts on “Understand the tragic {present}, by peering into the sci-fi {past}…

  1. Hi Kevin, it’s equally true that the glorious present is based on a tragic past ­čÖé I don’t think ideas have dried up. We won’t know what is wonderous until we have something in the past to compare it with. And looking at most things today — health, economics, technology, education — it’s overall a better place than before, I feel. Besides, progress always comes with a downside. Innocent is what tends to be lost.

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  2. Read any science fiction by Dan Simmons, he wil convince you that at least his imaginaion did not dry up. Especially the Hyperon and Endymion seriers or the Illiam and Olympus books

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