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Ivor Baddiel and Jonny Zucker

Never in a million years

Many people have speculated about what the future will be like. The trouble is that the future eventually gets here. In Never in a million years: a history of hopeless predictions from the beginning to the end of the world Ivor Baddiel and Jonny Zucker look at some predictions which haven't been bourne out by reality.

In the home we were supposed to be waited on by robots, although laundry would be unnecessary since all clothes would be disposable. We should only be working 10 hours a week, and would travel everywhere by air (using jetpacks for short journeys of course). Of course there have also been predictions that getting a rocket into space would be impossible, that the internet would be a passing fad, as well as numerous predictions of the end of the world.

You need to note, however, that the book is written for laughs rather than to analyse the mistakes that can be made in prediction. So when the authors question Arthur C Clarke's sign 'No wheeled vehicles on this highway' - why are there highways if we're all up in the air - they've missed that he was predicting hovercraft rather than aircraft. And in predictions of life extention one feels they could have done some arithmetic and noted that the men who were to be in the prime of their lives at the age of 135 would have been 91 when the prediction was made. So the book is an entertaining way of whiling away an hour or two, but not for anything more serious.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews