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Where's My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future that Never Arrived Paperback – Apr 17 2007
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By the way, I'm still waiting for the solar-powered electro-suspension car that I saw on the old "Disneyland" TV show.
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.
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.
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 -
Zepplins (Huge Goodyear type airships)
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
Space Mirror / Elevator