09/02/2017 7:29 AM AEDT | Updated 12/02/2017 2:47 PM AEDT

When Science Fiction Writers Got It Right

An 1880's author correctly predicted the credit card.

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It's fascinating to re-read old scifi novels and see where their predictions were spot on.

Writing science fiction is an art like no other and while the incredible genius of the late Phillip K Dick has easily transformed into blockbuster movies (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report) there are many lesser known writers whose predictions have slowly become reality.

In 1880, U.S. author Edward Bellamy wrote 'Looking Backward' which predicted 'universal credit' otherwise known today as as credit cards. Bellamy, a futurist, predicted that universal credit would be used to purchase goods and services, without the need for paper money.

It was an incredible prediction and, no doubt, Bellamy was reaching into the inner sanctum of his wild imagination, perhaps without realising his vision would be a reality.


One of Bellamy's incredibly accurate predictions from the l880s.

When Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in 1953, headphones were a thing. But they were incredibly large and difficult to use.

In his classic novel, Bradbury described tiny headphones as 'little seashells' and 'thimble radios'. He wrote about an 'electronic ocean of sound, of music and talk and music and talk.' He could almost be describing the popular earbud headphones that are still so popular today but were not a reality until the early 2000s.


Robert Heinlein wrote a short story in 1940 with the title 'Solution Unsatisfactory.' In his short story, he depicted a world where the US created an atomic bomb that ended World War II.

Heinlein wrote that, after the bomb explodes, the rest of the world will be thrown into a huge nuclear arms race. What's so interesting is this story was written before the US entered WWII, and five years before the devastating bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima that the world has never forgotten.



Aldous Huxley's Brave New World is one of the best examples of futuristic thinking. Written in 1931, Huxley writes about a version of anti-depressants. In Brave New World there's a mood-altering medicine known as soma, used in 2540.

George Orwell's classic 1984 (published 1949) delivered readers a dystopian world monitored by security cameras. Back then, it must have sounded completely bizarre. The only thing we don't have yet is 'Big Brother.'


In 1969, John Brunner's 'Stand On Zanzibar' painted a picture of the US in 2010 that is somewhat similar to American life today: right down to an abundance of school shootings.

It's a world where the younger generation turn their backs on marriage, preferring to have casual hookups. The cars run on electric fuel and Detroit becomes an abandoned city. Many of the classic scifi writers had a background in science but most of them relied on their incredible imaginations and an uncanny way to predict what might be around the corner.


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