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Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived Paperback – Apr 17 2007

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (April 17 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596911360
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596911369
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 1.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #516,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Clinically depressed fans of Star Trek and The Jetsons, take heart: the future you've been dreaming of-ray guns, robot maids, unisex jumpsuits, space vacations-is ready for production. Sort of. That's the premise of this tongue-in-cheek look at all the techno-wonders that 21st century man was promised by sci-fi dreamers of the past. In his introduction, author and robotics expert Wilson (How to Survive a Robot Uprising) sets forth a pledge: "If the technology is possible-even remotely so-this book will lay it out," gamely ignoring "any potentially catastrophic consequences." Happily, this Ph.D. isn't trading in idle speculation; among plenty of jokes and silliness he deals in solid-and fascinating-science. For instance, it turns out that teleportation can work, and in fact already has: exploiting an obscure (and complicated) rule of quantum physics, scientists achieved, under lab conditions, the teleportation of a single photon in 1993. Wilson goes on to explain (or debunk) much-anticipated wonders like robot pets, food pills and cryogenic freezing ("the chance of being reborn in the future as a brain-dead humanoid zombie surely beats having no chance at all"). Though readers of this slim guide may not be inspired to "raise your voice, and demand your personal jetpack," it's got plenty of encouragement and info for frustrated futurists.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Daniel H. Wilson, Ph.D, has a degree in Robotics from Carnegie-Mellon. He is the author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Where are all those wonderful things we were promised in the future... 40 years ago?
The author is a scientist who gives a clear explanation of the current status of a number of items such as jet packs, cloaking devices and living on the moon. There are a few surprises as many now exist but they are very expensive and not available to the public.
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Format: Paperback
Robots, cyborgs, and strange planets with their own languages - it sometimes appears that anything and everything is possible in books. Real life, by comparison, seems so drab. Where, demands Daniel Wilson, is the stuff of wonder, all that cool gear we were guaranteed? Where's My Jetpack? A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived is a nonfiction book for kids and adults that itemizes the sleek chrome Tomorrowland we were meant to inherit. How close have we come to attaining our Jetsons-style destiny? Sadly, not very, concludes the author, who writes about even complex science with an enviable competence and humour. Find out how to build your own hoverboard, learn how close we are to (finally) developing reliable rebreathers, and get the inside scoop on how to book your own berth on a revamped zeppelin. It's none of it as cool as we were promised, but hey, at least we haven't let the robots take over yet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa1bf79f0) out of 5 stars 24 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19210c0) out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative, but needs photos. May 17 2007
By Arthur M. Bullock - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is classified as humor, and indeed it is very amusing. The ironic tone is maintained well, and the occasional jokes have a pretty good batting average at really being funny. However, the book is also quite factual in its discussions of the current state of progress on the various "Wonders of Tomorrow". Since so much of this involves actual robots, rocket planes, jetpacks, etc., that exist today (or at least existed at one time), you really want to see photos of these things. There are none at all in the book.

By the way, I'm still waiting for the solar-powered electro-suspension car that I saw on the old "Disneyland" TV show.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1f8d318) out of 5 stars Science humor Aug. 14 2007
By R. Howell - Published on
Format: Paperback
Carnagie Mellon University PhD, degree in robotics, author of "How to Survive the Robot Uprising" = Daniel Wilson. Wilson takes another foray into the world of books by giving us the ever important question of 'Where's My Jetpack?'. Science fiction of the past predicted so many ideas for our future on surefire technologies that would come to pass... but didn't. Wilson looks into a plethora of these ideas and just how far they have progressed to feasibility and marketability. The answer is a big fat zero. Wilson keeps it simple for the mass audience, meaning we don't require PhDs ourselves to get the jist of what the author is conveying. Wilson gives us updates on projects and shows us the close-to-completion, won't-happens, and the looming-on-the-horizon of the old futurama ideas.

There's plenty of light humor mixed into the writings and some are pretty bad jokes. It's a light and fanciful book to read and will only take a few hours to complete. He covers topics ranging from jetpacks, flying cars, hoverboards, robot servants, smart houses, underwater and lunar cities, civilian space travel, ray guns, holograms, cloaking devices, food & no-sleep pills, cryogenics, and more. The book itself has blue foiled page edges and cover; the illustrations are largely silhouettes and simple line drawings but satisfactory. Overall, it's quick to read and will make you think of all the missed opportunities of the past science fiction world proposed by the likes of Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, and Tomorrowland.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1f8d69c) out of 5 stars Congratulations DOCTOR Daniel H. Wilson! May 6 2007
By viktor_57 - Published on
Format: Paperback
Since his last book, "How To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion" Daniel H. Wilson has apparently satisfied his Ph.D. requirements and his committee members at Carnegie Mellon University, despite having published a less-than-scholarly-but-still-quite-helpful book for a general (and still-woefully-unprepared-for-a-robotic-rebellion) audience. Congratulations! In his new book, "Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived", roboticist Wilson takes the same tongue-in-cheek (vocal processor-in-speaker?) approach to amazing-science-fiction-future technologies as he took to surviving a robot rebellion, combining real-world science with technically feasible technologies to come up with practical suggestions and advice.

From flying cars to ray guns to food pills to x-ray specs, Wilson takes 30 futuristic technologies we have yet to enjoy on a large scale and discusses the current state of the art, the science behind it, and the obstacles preventing widespread implementation. Breezy, informal and yet very informative, "Where's My Jetpack?" provides a fun romp through most of the amazing technologies which have become staples in science fiction but not in real life. Each chapter stands on its own, with some technological promises closer to being realized, such as household robots and ray guns, than others, such as teleportation of humans or moon colonies. Richard Horne provides bold illustrations perfectly complementing the retro-futurist subjects of the book. Always enjoyable, "Where's My Jetpack" may be one of the few books by a Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. that doesn't require a Ph.D. to read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1b9c8ac) out of 5 stars Undoubtedly You've Pondered Where Are Many of These Future Technology Visions? Where's My JetPack? Gives some of the Answers! Feb. 9 2008
By James N Simpson - Published on
Format: Paperback
There are a few books out there that have mastered the format of providing answers to scientific, medical or everyday myths in an entertaining, therefore easy to read non journal/textbook sounding way. Where's my Jetpack? however is the first of these great books, that I have come across anyway which tackles the imagined future of decades ago compared to the reality of that future time of being today. Many science fiction novels, TV shows and even advertisements on the back of comic books foretold a future of gadgets, transportation, robot helpers and living environments that would make life so much easier and interesting for your average human. Who hasn't had the conversation of where are the flying cars, underwater cities and so on with their friends at some stage. Even Seinfeld had an episode where George and Jerry brought this up. Up to now though no has provided the answers to why some of these things aren't around or in fact told us that some of them are. Where's My Jetpack? is a great short, fast, informative read that will provide you with lots of information to bring up these very questions again the next time you see your friends.

I found Where's My JetPack to be really interesting. It might not go into the depth that some people want on each topic but it does provide enough info to know why something will never happen, or where the product can be found if it is already out there, if we can expect to ever see it in the future or that mankind had it but didn't want it (Smell O- Vision).

A great example of a topic covered is the whole invisible man science fiction creation which although not invented by was made popular by H.G. Wells and authors since then such as H.F. Saint. I will readily admit I have been a huge fan of the fiction novels in this genre and Wilson's information on the whole miniature cameras and image projections in the cloak actually turns something you thought would always only be fiction into something that could feasibly become reality one day. I really hope some fiction authors use this cloak method and write some good fiction with it.

Other stuff I had never even thought about was also very intriguing such as the elevator to space. I mean it makes sense when you think about it, we don't use jet propulsion to get to the 100th story of an office building so obviously this would be the safer, more cost effective way to get satellites, space station material and even people into space. I'd never even thought of that the sue companies for your own stupidity, that initially was born in the US and is now plaguing the world impacts future helpful to society inventions such as the moving sidewalk. We could right now have faster moving people movers at the airports and elsewhere right now if not for this greedy element of society.

Where's My JetPack? is a very good book, I highly recommend it. If you are after other great entertaining as well as educational reads on science also check out Great Mythconceptions: The Science Behind the Myths by Karl Kruszelnicki, Do Blue Bedsheets Bring Babies?: The Truth Behind Old Wives' Tales by Thomas Craughwell, Can You Drill a Hole Through Your Head and Survive?: 180 Fascinating Questions and Amazing Answers About Science, Health and Nature by Simon Rogers and Can a Guy Get Pregnant? : Scientific Answers to Everyday (and Not-So-Everyday) Questions by Bill Sones.

Topics covered inside Where's My JetPack? are -
The Jetpack
Zepplins (Huge Goodyear type airships)
Moving Sidewalks
Self Steering/Flying Cars
Underwater & Space Hotels / Moon Colonies / Skyscraper Cities
Dolphin Guides / Artificial Human Gills
Smell O Vision
Robot Pets / Servants / Smart House
Mind Reading Devices / X-Ray Specs
Anti - Sleeping Pill
Invisible Camouflage
Universal Translator
Unisex Jumpsuit
Food Pill
Ray Guns
Space Mirror / Elevator
Cryogenic Freezing
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19a49d8) out of 5 stars A very brief overview of pseudo-futuristic inventions July 15 2007
By J. Simon - Published on
Format: Paperback
This could have been an excellent book. The idea is great, an overview of how real-life science has dealt with supposedly futuristic inventions such as flying cars, underwater hotels and jetpacks. The author who has a PhD in Robotics is obviously qualified to write such a book. The problem is that this book is written as a comedy book not a science book. Instead of interestng details relating to the subject, the reader is given bad jokes and only minimal scientific discussion. Although the book is nearly 200 pages in length, it is more like a short pamphlet with its giant print and plentiful illustrations. Overall, it was still interesting reading, but it could have been so much better.