Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Future Has This Tendency

I just finished reading Wm. Gibson's Neuromancer for the first time, at 2:30 in the morning. I'm in a book club and we'd voted that one in for the month. And it's a book I'd wanted to read for quite a long time. I didn't get very far with the last few book selections we've had, but this one I read joyously, and quickly with a whole week to spare. I can't help but wonder if Bill Gates got the name Microsoft from this book (which is the name of a software crystal some character slid into his head to dial into some place in the matrix/aka/internet.) I'm gonna do some hunting around. Fascinating stuff.

I love how science fiction has been a visionary forum for new technology. One of my old time favorite authors Arthur C. Clarke's book Childhood's End (1953) refers to a Facsimile machine which sends the written word instantly. Nowadays a Fax machine seems like an archaelogical artifact, but in the early 50s it was a vision of the future.

The future has this tendency it seems, of coming and going pretty quickly.

I just discovered the music of The Bird and The Bee through my friend Ellen and I've had their song Again and Again and Again on my brain station for the last few days. It running it's melody over and over and over in my mind.

I saw two movies today, to make up for my lack of movie going. I saw Toy Story 3 with my son Alexander and his school chum. Then, tonight, with Paula, Get Him To The Greek. We laughed our heads off and conferred on guys afterwards. I could use more of this laughing drug in my life.

I bought Paul two new pairs of glasses yesterday. They should be ready for pick up in a week. I've finally gotten his new prescription and a new frame together in the same room. And so I bought an extra pair because they get lost and broken it seems at the nursing home.

Alexander and I were visiting friends in Scotts Valley/Santa Cruz last week and second day we were there Paul's nursing home called to tell me his glasses were broken. *Why do these things seem to happen when I'm away?* At any rate, I asked them to tape 'em up best they could and let him wear them like that. It seemed to work.

Buying Glasses: Then there is the challenge of finding glasses that look like they belong to Paul Williams. Which is that wonderful sort of Issac Asimov, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, 1970s Navy issue, mix. It used to be, at least in New York, in the 80s, you could find a pair of black horn rimmed glasses for 20 or 30 bucks. In the 90s I could find a few but it was hard 5 years ago. I did find some yesterday, grey to match his hair, the frames were only 80 bucks, not bad. Sure beats the damned high falootin' price of RayBans. And he looks cute in them for a guy that lives in a nursing home.

xo, clb

PS and to the blogger that wrote about my music and your crush and something I said in an interview about guys with glasses. I wasn't being flippant or facetious, they are my favorites.

and now I most certainly must go to sleep....


  1. The speed of the future is what I love and hate about working as a computer programmer: there's always something new to explore, I know I'll never get bored, but most of the knowledge I accumulated 15 years ago is deadwood.

    Facsimile transmission over phone and telegraph wires was widely used well before the 1950s, though I don't think most people were aware of it. Allegedly Jules Verne predicted faxing. And I remember a Ted Sturgeon story that described a very modern fax machine in some detail, right down to the red light on the console, but I don't remember in which story it appeared. It may be in one of the wonderful volumes your husband has edited!

  2. Thanks Jamie, For setting the record straight. According to Wiki the first commercial telefax service happened 11 years before workable telephones!

    Funny I remember discussing this example with Paul many years ago and he too thought Clarke had predicted the use of Fax's.

    I'll ask him today if he remembers which Sturgeon story has the fax description, he still has a pretty good memory for old information.

  3. Looked into the arrival of Microsoft and it was in the 70s well before Neuromancer was written, but a nice nod to a new cutting edge company that the author could imagine lasting a very long time.

    Here are a few technologies that were in some way predicted by fiction writers..

    Video Communications (I imagine like Skype) Jules Verne "In the Year 2889" published 1889.

    Briefcase computers: James P. Hogan "Inherit The Stars" 1977

    Flip cellphone: Star Trek

    At any rate, Paul used to say that Science Fiction is a genre that uses a disguise to talk about the present. Any predictions are the exception.