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1956 Looks At 1984 -An Imagined Future Through Eyes Of The Present (1956) – Past Daily Reference Room

Imagining the Future
The Future World – some predictions were wildly optimistic while others were wildly short-sighted.
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Conversation – Arthur C. Clarke – Anthony Boucher – Clifton Fadiman – 1956 Looks at 1984 – October 18, 1956 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

The big question on many peoples minds has always been what the future will be like. Will it be wildly optimistic or the pit of dystopia? Or, more likely, a combination of both. It’s either been over-reached or under-imagined. The future never seems to be what we thought it was going to be, hardly ever.

In this episode of the radio series Conversation, moderator Clifton Fadiman poses that question to two leading figures in the world of Science and Science Fiction. Arthur C. Clarke, the English science-fiction writer, science writer, futurist, inventor, undersea explorer and author of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Anthony Boucher, an American author, critic, and editor, and writer of numerous classic mystery novels, short stories, science fiction, and radio dramas. Between 1942 and 1947 he acted as reviewer of mostly mystery fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Both are modestly optimistic about the future. Clarke predicting there may be space exploration as “early as 1984” and Boucher maintains that predicting the future almost always turns up short-changing reality and that whatever we predict for the future, certainly for 1984 will be surpassed by then. He does say there will most likely be more Opera companies in the future which was optimistic at best. They did both indicate that space travel and the exploration of space would lead to a greater likelihood of world peace. Neither imagines anything resembling personal computers, the internet or social media. That part of the future took everyone by surprise – although they did leave room open for the possibility that the presence of a Steve Jobs (or someone just like him) would appear and supply the great leaps forward.

Still, an interesting assessment of what the future could possibly hold, as seen by two figures in 1956, peering ahead to 1984. And in 2021 looking back on that assessment some 65 years later, there’s a goodly amount of room for shoulder shrugging and skyward glances.

Have a listen to what they were saying about the future in 1956.

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