‘Future events such as these will affect you in the future’

Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives, and remember, my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

Criswell, Plan 9 From Outer Space

I posted something the other day about a couple of old science-fiction movies set in the year 2013. Escape from L.A. (1996) was about a guy escaping from a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, I think, while The Postman (1997) was about a lone letter carrier who delivers hope in a post-apocolyptic world, one letter at a time, or something. (I never saw either of them.)

That got me thinking:

We really are living in a world that would have seemed like science-fiction a generation ago.

This is how we’ll dress in 2036, according to Things to Come (1936).

Smartphones. Skype. GPS. Kindles. If someone had told you 20 years ago that you could stream movies onto a 50-inch, crystal-clear TV screen hanging flat against the wall for less than the cost of a movie ticket, you wouldn’t have believed them.

Heck, even the idea of a blog would have seemed crazy a generation ago. Seriously, you mean anyone can write anything they want, and people all over the planet can read it instantly and talk to you about it?

What’s funny is that none of this feels like “the future.”

It turns out that the future sneaks up on you and is a lot less snazzy than I thought it would be when I was a kid.

This is how we dressed for work 14 years ago. (Cast photo from Space:1999.)
This is how we dressed for work 14 years ago, according to Space: 1999 (1976).

We don’t all wear matching jumpsuits or have hover cars or work on the moon. We can buy turtle-sized robots to vacuum the carpet, but we still can’t buy jet packs, and I don’t know anyone who owns a laser gun, although a few have laser pointers, for some reason.

We can put a man on the moon, but we don’t want to. We can pull in 500 cable channels, but mostly it’s just “reality” shows about silly people with daddy issues and persistent low-grade fevers (I’m guessing) doing stupid things so people will look at them.

We haven’t found a cure for cancer, but you can’t watch a ballgame without seeing a dozen adds for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction.

I don’t know. I guess I’m OK with the future not being what it was supposed to be. Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse, and, besides, if you think it through, hover cars would probably just scoot around as freely as a puck on an air-hockey table. I think we’re probably better off without them.

I’ve got a bad feeling about this

A few years, Thing 1, our 10-year-old began asking me about Star Wars. She didn’t know much about it except what she’d heard at school, and what she heard at school was mostly about the prequels.

Sweetie and I … OK, Sweetie doesn’t really care.

I — pretty much by myself — have worked hard to make sure our children grow up in a Jar Jar-free home.

When our daughter just a baby, I decided that, when the time was right, I’d let her watch the original Star Wars, then The Empire Strikes Back and finally Return of the Jedi, and then, and only then, would I expose her to The Phantom Menace and the other prequels, because, no matter what George Lucas says, that’s the natural order of things.

I worried sometimes that I’d waited too late to talk to her about Star Wars, so I was relieved when we were watching Empire — this was a couple years ago — and Vader says, “Luke, I am your father,” Thing 1 sat bolt upright and said, “Whoa!”

Despite everything she’d heard on the playground, despite the scene in Toy Story 2 where Zurg tells Buzz Lightyear that he’s Buzz’s father, she didn’t know. The moment still surprised her.

I had done my job.

Our youngest, Thing 2, the 4-year-old, has begun asking questions about Star Wars.

I think he’s still too young to watch the movies,I think they might be too scary, but I don’t want him to hear about this stuff on the playground. I want him to hear it from me. I don’t want him to grow up thinking Jar Jar Binks is funny or that Greedo shot first. I want him to know the truth.

I think that’s why this new public service announcement hit so close to home: