Buckle Up: We Really Are Going Back to the Future. Again.

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Elon Musk’s “Starship Hopper.” Artist’s rendering on the right; the real test rocket on the left.

I had the same sense watching news reports of NASA’s September 17, 1976 ceremony for the space shuttle Enterprise.

Star Trek’s creator Gene Roddenberry and many of the original series’ cast were present at the shuttle’s Palmdale, California unveiling. I was 14 years old and convinced that one day the ship would be redesigned to mimic that of the show.

Fast-forward. It’s 2019, the space shuttle program has been long discontinued, and the remodel has not (yet) happened. But many Trek fans watched the event, and eventually became parents. Some named their children after characters from the original series or one of its many follow-ups:

I anticipated this, even in 1976. My dad once told me, “One day we’ll all have computers and communicators like on Star Trek.

“Sure, dad. Whatever you say.” That much I didn’t believe.

“But I do think parents will name their kids after those characters, and some of them will grow up to be scientists and astronauts,” I continued. “And the real-life Kirk and McCoy will explore the stars in an authentic Starship Enterprise.

I still believe it.

***

I’m a fan of old pulps, and have read Amazing Stories for many years.

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This morning, while opening the day with my usual routine of sharing a half-dozen or so Facebook posts, I came across this:

Pretty retro, huh?

Remember those old 1950s and 1960s science fiction films, the likes of which can be found on numerous free public domain apps and streamed at no cost? Rocketship X-M and its ilk?

Films that inspired us to visit the moon, and elsewhere?

Ever read Jules Verne or Isaac Asimov? Or Phillip K. Dick?

The inventiveness of science fiction in general will always inspire and build, or foreshadow, our modern reality. Such is the nature of the genre.

Elon Musk’s new spaceship, which will soon transport artists and other civilians to the stars (all things being well), is but the latest example of science fiction beyond the tech horizon.

It took a billionaire to get to this point. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is nearly there as well. Who will win this latest space race, and to what degree will these efforts inspire the science fiction of the future … which will one day in turn inspire a new present?

That remains to be seen. Now, please excuse me while I join Marty and Doc Brown in the DeLorean and get to a decent 50’s diner for breakfast.

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Written by

Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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