Robert Heinlein's Encyclopedia of the Future

One of the things I enjoy about reading old science fiction is grading the speculative guesses about the future. In his 1954 novel The Star Beast, Robert Heinlein imagines the encyclopedia of the future, a giant mechanical supercomputer that occupies an entire building:

The universal dictionary in the British Museum was not more knowledgeable than the one in the Under Secretary's office; its working parts occupied an entire building in another part of Capital, and a staff of cyberneticists, semanticians and encyclopedists endlessly fed its hunger for facts. He could be sure that, whatever the "Hroshii" were, the Federation had never heard of them before.

Today, Wikipedia runs off of around 89 machines in Florida, 11 in Amsterdam, and 23 in Korea -- 123 rack-mounted blade servers that could be stored in a single room, maintained by a small staff and accessed anywhere in the world.

Looking up this passage in Google led me to Technovelgy, a site that catalogs predictions about technology in science fiction novels, comparing them to actual development. The site includes 110 of Heinlein's imagined inventions, including the chronometer, a spot-on description in 1940 of an atomic watch.


What do you think of Neal Stephenson's prediction of New Victorians (Vickies) in his 1995 'The Diamond Age,' and their appearance now in NYC, as described in a recent New York Observer piece:

Heinlein is the reason I became a reader, and I've read all his books, several times over.

Unfortunately, in his later works, he seems to have tried to justify incest and pedophilia while failing to explore the negative aspects; except to literarily criticize moral disagreement against those forms of sexuality.

I considered it a failure of intellect, even senility, because those two aspects of human sexual expression are universally condemned by humanity; only attaining a kind of stature or acceptance in any civilization at the time later historians accuse it (licentiousness and loss of morals) of being the cause of that societies destruction or fall.

I was sad to lose a favorite author to what seemed self-serving rationalizations which seemingly justified his own prurient interests, and which I hoped weren't excuses for any acts in reality ...

Drafting Dan

Spud luffs the work of Robert Heinlein but has a special affinity for "The Door into Summer". It's got everything. Technology, betrayal, time travel and a cat, wot else do ya want?

Spud also enjoys re-visiting Sci-Fic classics and seeing how close to the mark they came in terms of prediction.

The Roads Must Roll? Not!

As far as Spud is concerned it can't be the future yet until everybody has a flying car.

Spud considered RAH's espousing of the "line marriage" or polygamy to be a bit ignorant of the true history of the practice.

Be Well.

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