Category Archives: progress/obsolescence

“Good Night, Sophie,” Lino Aldani, 1963

“Good Night, Sophie,” Lino Aldani, 1963 – (trans. from Italian)– In a future in which the superstar, Sophie, is a VR porn star, Sophie must decide if the Anti-Dream League’s claims that “nature and the soul” are being lost due … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, aesthetics/beauty, agency/will/freedom, american culture, capitalism/Marxism, class/labor/"work", dreams/hypnosis, emotions/intimacy/empathy, gender, identity/authenticity, intelligence, interior/exterior, international, love/family/children, media/advertising, memory, narrative, natural/artificial, photo/film/image, progress/obsolescence, psych/mind/madness, reality/VR/surreal, religion/soul/spirituality, senses/space, sex/reproduction/sterility, simulacra, spectatorship/voyeurism, surveillance, the body, the gaze, the Other, theatre/performance | 1 Comment

“X Marks the Pedwalk,” Fritz Leiber, 1963

“X Marks the Pedwalk,” Fritz Leiber, 1963 — Pedestrians and drivers locked in conflict. Comments: Read in Nightmare Age.  The band “X Marks the Pedwalk” is named after this story.The story is referenced “glancingly” in Danse Macabre by Stephen King … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, american culture, cars/pedestrians, ecology/the environment, progress/obsolescence, speed/slowness | 1 Comment

“Requiem,” Edmond Hamilton, 1962

“Requiem,” Edmond Hamilton, 1962 — A world-weary captain presides over the group of reporters and “sentimentalists” gathered to witness the last moments of Earth. Comments:  Read in The Best of Edmond Hamilton.   Describes how the captain’s body “fits” the planet … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, emotions/intimacy/empathy, media/advertising, memory, museums/artifacts, progress/obsolescence, spectatorship/voyeurism, television, the body, time/history/causality, tourists | 1 Comment

“Earthmen Bearing Gifts,” Fredric Brown, 1960

“Earthmen Bearing Gifts,” Fredric Brown, 1960 – (short short) (Alternate title: “Contact”)  Peaceful Martians wait expectantly to offer telepathy and empathy to the younger, more technologically advanced race of humans.  But when the humans, oblivious to the Martian civilization, finally … Continue reading

Posted in 1960-1969, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, emotions/intimacy/empathy, progress/obsolescence, scientific ethics | 2 Comments

“The Sound-Sweep,” J. G. Ballard, 1960

“The Sound-Sweep,” J. G. Ballard, 1960 — Ultrasonic music is the new fashion and phonographs and live performances are a thing of the past.  It is a world where the echoes of music remain in their concert halls, where conversations … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, aesthetics/beauty, artists/creativity, cities/architecture/habitats, communication, disability, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, freaks/misfits, hubris/pride, love/family/children, memory, music, progress/obsolescence, senses/space | Leave a comment

“Day at the Beach,” Carol Emshwiller, 1959

“Day at the Beach,” Carol Emshwiller, 1959 — In a post-apocalyptic world, a couple with a very hirsute, very violent son, Littleboy, struggles to reenact a normal “day at the beach.”  When they’re attacked by thieves after their gasoline, Littleboy’s … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, evolution, love/family/children, primitive/civilized, progress/obsolescence, violence | Leave a comment

“Plenitude,” Will Worthington (Will Mohler), 1959

“Plenitude,” Will Worthington (Will Mohler), 1959 —  A family ekes out a hard life on the mountainside.  Opens with a young boy, Mike, asking his father “why, why,” as the father works on his garden. The child’s curiosity is deceptively … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, catastrophe, class/labor/"work", consumerism, gender, identity/authenticity, love/family/children, male anxiety, masculinity, museums/artifacts, natural/artificial, progress/obsolescence, reality/VR/surreal, senses/space, television, Uncategorized, violence | Leave a comment

“The Die-Hard,” Alfred Bester, 1958

“The Die-Hard,” Alfred Bester, 1958 – (short short) The last “man” on earth is visited in his rest home by the new, “adjusted” cybernetic human male.  Most of the standardized males are named Tom, although they employ subtle distinctions in … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, culture clash, cyborgs/posthumans, difference/tolerance, favorites, freaks/misfits, gender, generational conflict, identity/authenticity, invasion, masculinity, mechanization, memory, museums/artifacts, natural/artificial, physicians/medicine, progress/obsolescence, the body, the Other, time/history/causality, violence | Leave a comment

“The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff,” Theodore Sturgeon, 1955

“The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff,” Theodore Sturgeon, 1955 – (Novella) Two alien anthropologists observe the lonely inhabitants of a boarding house and study Synapse Beta Sub Sixteen, a trait which allows all sentient beings to step outside of their … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, aesthetics/beauty, american culture, class/labor/"work", communication, consumerism, difference/tolerance, emotions/intimacy/empathy, exiles/"home"/displacement, favorites, freaks/misfits, gender, language/libraries, love/family/children, male anxiety, masculinity, media/advertising, natural/artificial, photo/film/image, progress/obsolescence, spectatorship/voyeurism, surveillance, the body, the gaze, the Other, theatre/performance, tourists | Leave a comment

“The Waveries,” Fredric Brown, 1945

“The Waveries,” Fredric Brown, 1945 — George Bailey, a radio ad writer, listens to the fulsome ads of his rival while drinking and playing gin rummy with Maisie, a friend. A tapping similar to Morse code interrupts one of the … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, communication, invasion, music, photo/film/image, primitive/civilized, progress/obsolescence, waverlies | Leave a comment

“Asylum,” A. E. van Vogt, 1942

“Asylum,” A. E. van Vogt, 1942 – Two energy vampires arrive on Earth and outwit the relatively IQ-challenged man sent to stop them.  A female alien with an even higher IQ arrives to save him. Comments: Themes include femininity, IQ, … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, dreams/hypnosis, gender, intelligence, progress/obsolescence | Leave a comment

“Superiority,” Arthur C. Clarke, 1951

“Superiority,” Arthur C. Clarke, 1951 — A mighty fleet is defeated by inferior science at the Battle of the Five Suns.  Too many resources were invested in the latest military technology, the Sphere of Annihilation, and all other research was … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, international, logic/reason, mathematics, primitive/civilized, progress/obsolescence, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“The Shape of Things That Came,” Richard Deming, 1951

“The Shape of Things That Came,” Richard Deming, 1951 – A man of 1900 is transported fifty years into the future.  He returns and tells others about the radical changes he’s witnessed, but they refuse to believe that the young … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, genrecraft, progress/obsolescence, time/history/causality | Leave a comment

“With These Hands,” Cyril Kornbluth, 1951

“With These Hands,” Cyril Kornbluth, 1951 – Europe has been destroyed by radiation or bombs.  Roald Halvorsen, a sculptor and painter, finds he is out of work due to new tech (the esthetikon) and the literally “mass-produced” tastes of the … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, aesthetics/beauty, artists/creativity, class/labor/"work", identity/authenticity, media/advertising, myth, photo/film/image, progress/obsolescence, religion/soul/spirituality, suicide | Leave a comment

“Quixote and the Windmill,” Poul Anderson, 1950

“Quixote and the Windmill,” Poul Anderson, 1950 – The first robot designed to have no purpose wanders the earth, uncertain of what to do with its freedom.  It discovers two disgruntled humans with the same problem, presumably because robots have … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, agency/will/freedom, automata/robots, class/labor/"work", function/utility/skeumorphs, humor, mechanization, progress/obsolescence | Leave a comment

“The Little Black Bag,” Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1950

“The Little Black Bag,” Cyril M. Kornbluth, 1950 – A black bag full of user-friendly medical devices from a future in which humanity is divided into a small number of geniuses and a large number of “marching morons,” is discovered … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, drugs/pharma, hubris/pride, intelligence, physicians/medicine, progress/obsolescence, satire, scientific ethics, the body | Leave a comment

“The Morning of the Day They Did It,” E. B. White, 1950

“The Morning of the Day They Did It,” E. B. White, 1950 – Technology has progressed to the point where food has become toxic, everyone must take Anti-Tri-D shots, euthanasia is advertised on television, culture has been “debased,” and visual … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, american culture, catastrophe, death/immortality, drugs/pharma, ecology/the environment, media/advertising, progress/obsolescence, space exploration, suicide, television, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“The Isolationist,” Mack Reynolds, 1950

“The Isolationist,” Mack Reynolds, 1950 – A bitter old man condemns progress–neon and the clamor of jukeboxes, cars, airplanes, even electric lights–choosing instead to live on a farm.  He is a former schoolteacher who left the city in disgust at … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, atomic bomb/Hiroshima, cars/pedestrians, consumerism, progress/obsolescence, scientific ethics, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“Scanners Live in Vain,” Cordwainer Smith, 1948

“Scanners Live in Vain,” Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger), 1948 – The story of a cyborg-pilot Scanner, Martel, whose senses have been reduced to sight to better suit him for space travel, i.e. to avoid the “pain of space.”  He uses … Continue reading

Posted in 1946-1959, automata/robots, communication, disability, emotions/intimacy/empathy, exiles/"home"/displacement, favorites, gender, love/family/children, masculinity, mechanization, progress/obsolescence, religion/soul/spirituality, senses/space, sex/reproduction/sterility, the body, war/soldiers | Leave a comment

“City,” Clifford D. Simak, 1944

“City,” Clifford D. Simak, 1944 – New forms of transportation lead to urban flight, literally.  The only way to save “the city” for Grandpa is to turn it into a memorial/museum/park for the people of the future. Comments: A discussion … Continue reading

Posted in 1940-1945, cities/architecture/habitats, function/utility/skeumorphs, globalization/world government, museums/artifacts, progress/obsolescence | Leave a comment