Clarke Orbits, Tayler Salmon, and Blue-Haired Holograms

Scientist and science-fiction grand master Arthur C. Clarke postulated worldwide radio coverage via geostationary satellites in a paper he wrote in 1945. We lesser science-fiction authors often cite this example when attempting to inflate the importance of our field at parties. And in truth, hundreds of the things you take for granted these days were imagined by science-fiction authors long before hard-working engineers made them a reality.

I'm no Arthur C. Clarke, but do get email from people who are amazed to see my jokes from a decade ago engineered into realities today.

I got a lot of email regarding this recent kerfluffle over whether or not salmon that have been genetically engineered to grow to full size much faster than naturally-occurring salmon are safe for people to eat. Yes, I did that joke in July of 2000. Yes, I fully expected to see GM salmon on my table. What was I thinking?

Gluttony! I love tasty, tasty salmon, and these poor creatures are just not very good at adapting to my desire to eat them all up. I figure the only way hungry humans like me are going to continue to enjoy the sweet, sweet taste of salmon-flesh is if we begin engineering them to grow big and healthy on salmon farms. I mean, I'd love to see their habitats and spawning grounds protected, but I want a backup plan that includes lox on my bagels.

Yesterday morning a reader pointed out a new bit of dystopic technological prognostication in my work: holographic pop-stars. I have to confess, at the time I didn't see this one actually happening for a good thirty or forty years, and when I told the joke I did so in a setting that was a thousand years in our future. Well, the future is here, and she has impossibly long legs, blue hair, and a live concert video.

Clarke's writing shaped the world we live in. The communicators of Roddenberry's Star Trek and the data pads of Kubrik & Clarke's 2001: A Space Oddessy are in our hands today, and they depend on devices in Clarke Orbit to connect us with each other. 

I'm not sure I want to be remembered for giant GM fish or holographic pop stars, so don't worry about trying to name any of these things after me. Still, I'll take such fame as lands in my lap. Especially if I get to keep eating salmon. 

Next Post » « Previous Post
blog comments powered by Disqus