Friday, March 26, 2010

Books in the Science Fiction World

Let's wrap up this "Future of Books" week with something fun, k? I'm such a nerd...but I actually think it' pretty cool to see what science fiction worlds think books will look like...

Now, we can't go any further without first talking about....Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy! This is the classic future of books. A small device that connects to a wireless inter-universe network of information constantly updating all the information in the entire universe. And it has a nice sensible logo: Don't Panic.

As Adams put it:

"What is it?" asked Arthur.

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a sort of electronic book. It tells you everything you need to know about anything. That's its job."

Arthur turned it over nervously in his hands.

"I like the cover," he said. "'Don't Panic.' It's the first helpful or intelligible thing anybody's said to me all day."

But, by and far, most science fiction authors, movies, and shows tend to show the future of books as a thin-as-a-sheet-of-paper display screen. I think the most realistic version of it come from Joss Whedon's Firefly (seen right). It's sort of like a paper-size iPad with many windows open at a time. That can constantly stream new downloaded information. Pretty cool stuff.

Caprica does something similar, but it also shows how casually people treat the future tech: the digital paper has become so cheap and common that people fold it up and stick in their pockets much like we do with our shopping lists. I haven't actually seen Caprica (yet), but here's a vid showing the tech:

This is certainly not a new idea in sci fi (although Caprica and Firefly are among the best, graphics-wise, to show the tech). And there's a perfectly valid reason for why this type of display is so prominent in fiction. We're pretty darn close to this sort of tech already. Check out this flexible color screen--it's thin as paper, can bend, and plays movies and video.

Looks to me like the future is almost here.


Myrna Foster said...

That is seriously cool. I say that and mean it, and yet, I like my books the way they are. I don't own an e-reader, and I can't see myself buying one. But I like the thin paper idea. Think of all the books I could fit on my overflowing bookshelves!

Bish Denham said...

I have often seen Captain Jean Luc Picard (and other on the USS Enterprise) reading from a hand-held devices.

Christine Fonseca said...

thus the reason I LOVE sci-fi!! You get a true glimpse of the future.

About Me said...

I'm with Bish. Star Trek dreamed of ereaders years ago. I've been wanting them since my days with Captain Picard.

Carolyn V. said...

That is amazing!!! Technology just keeps getting better and better. I just hope I can keep up! =)

PJ Hoover said...

The future just keeps coming true, doesn't it?

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

I have lots of these in my stories, and it's amazing how quickly the world is catching up! Makes it difficult to dream up the next thing!

Last week I had to imagine what the library of the future would look like (70 years hence). And it was a SCHOOL library, not the Library of Congress, so we're not talking about archiving ancient documents onto digital storage, we're talking how do kids use the library in 70 years.

I went with a "pod" concept - everything in small groups. There's the multimedia pod, some individual workpods, and some small group pods, with kids clustered around an interactive holoscreen. Also a Literature Lab. And of course the climate-controlled room where they store the paper-book relics, for those hangers on teachers that wanted to use paper books for their history class.

What do you think, history teacher? :)

Nishant said...

I like the thin paper idea. Think of all the books
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