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.
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