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Science Fiction Novels That Have Predicted the Future

These authors caught a subtle glimpse of the history far preceding their time, since their science fiction novels have predicted the future.

By George HermanPublished 6 years ago 7 min read

Albert Einstein stated that time travel could never be possible for humans, but these following authors looked past this very notion and went beyond their times to a place more realistic than that of their imaginations: the future. It's still unclear whether any one of them were time travelers or not, but it's safe to say they all had experiences reminiscent of the next phase in history. Their detailed storytelling foretold many events, or more specifically, the very machinery that would revolutionize our time.

Despite the fact that these authors have shown us a window into time, they didn't always get all of the facts right. At least, for what it's worth, they saw into the future and idealized concepts we couldn't possibly imagine. They shaped such imaginary things as the electric submarine, credit cards, and even the iPad before technology advanced thus far. That is what makes the following science fiction novels that have predicted the future some of the best pieces of literature, for not only have they outlasted the test of time, but literally saw through it.

A quintessential tale on journeys to many fantastical worlds, Gulliver's Travels is one of the oldest science fiction novels that have predicted the future. While some might want to consider John Swift's classic as a social satire, The Guardian sees this 1726 masterpiece as more of a science and satire.

When on a floating world filled with scientists, a place called Laputa, astronomers observe and relate to Gulliver an interesting find: Mars has two moons in its orbit! While this may have merely been a stroke of written genius for him, it turns out that Swift was right. Nearly 150 years after Travels' publication, in 1877, Phobos and Deimos were discovered.

Peering forward more than anything else, Edward Bellamy wrote his 1888 novel Looking Backward without even realizing he had, in essence, formulated credit cards. In the Utopian science fiction novel, Julian West wakes up, after sleeping for 113 years, to find that everyone utilizes what's called "credit" to buy goods in the futuristic year of 2000.

Nearly 63 years before credit cards were invented, Bellamy introduced them almost as identical as present day. In the book, they work more like debit or Social Security dividends than actual credit. Despite this, it's still still one of the most breathtaking science fiction novels that have predicted the future, if for anything showing our devotion to continuous spending.

Most science fiction novels that have predicted the future tend to be based on dystopian worlds far ahead of their time. This is expressly maintained by Brand New World by Aldous Huxley. Published in 1931, the novel sought to explore a world that depended on capitalism, drugs, and sexual freedom as an overruling ideal, thereby separating its citizens into a caste system.

Huxley's imaginary creations of mood-boosting medications, overpopulation, and reproductive technology have come true, as men and women in our modern era utilize pills to elevate themselves, and abortion is one of the most challenged political and ethical debates ever.

All those sci-fi writers who would eventually go on to win the Hugo Book Awards can thank none other than Hugo Gernsback. His Ralph 124C 41+ is not only among the science fiction novels that have predicted the future, but it's also one of this author's most odd, yet cherished literary pieces.

With such an eccentric title as Ralph 124C 41+, you'd think this book would often be overlooked or ignored. Though it's saturated by a formulaic love story, the novel itself details explicit futuristic technology, like solar power energy, tape recorders, space travel, and movies with sound. Written in 1911, the story takes place in 2660! Gernsback may have gotten some things right, but he may have pushed the future just a little too far with this one.

Probably all of our immediate high school go-to's, Fahrenheit 451 was a treasure of a novel to every fan of literature. Foretelling of things we now face each and every day (censorship), Bradbury's classic shows not only the level of commitment one man should have for the search of knowledge, but also challenges how we view the artistry of writing itself. While Fahrenheit 451 may not be the most prolific of novels, it's still one of the best Ray Bradbury books and is one among few science fiction novels that have predicted the future.

In the book, you may find a little piece of familiar auditory hardware, for which characters in the dystopian novel use as earbuds, or "seashells," in order to listen in on their "thimble radios," or what Bradbury considers portable audio devices. They sound not far off from the present day Bluetooth headsets—even iPhone earbuds if we want to go that far. He also foresaw the eventual rise in flat-screen TVs, which those in his novel have fallen victim to, ignoring the enriching berth of literature that represents their past, as well as their artistic expression.

One of the best Jules Verne books marks itself as one of the most subtle science fiction novels that have predicted the future: the electric submarine. This absolutely blew my mind, because for some reason I never put two and two together. As far back as 1870, Verne's futuristic assessment eventually came true, and it sparked the minds of readers 90 long years before the first actual submarine took to the seas.

This isn't a first for Verne, though. He's among the few sci-fi writers around well-versed in predicting the future, as so exemplified by his From the Earth to the Moon. In it, he pretty much foretells the lunar landing a century before the technology was even invented.

Somewhat of an inspiration for The Matrix series, William Gibson's 1984 classic, Neuromancer, depicts a world of cyberspace and thieving cyber hackers on a quest to "jack in" for the miracle cure-all. While this may not sound so very close to our modernity, hacking is certainly something of major concern in our present era. That's why Neuromancer is among science fiction novels that have predicted the future.

What I'm sure William Gibson could never have guessed was how crucially realistic his story now sounds to modern ears. The likes of cybersecurity itself have come into question countless of times, not only in our country's defense, but even in line with our daily social interactions. The Facebook data leak is something that has seemed to be brushed under the rug, but it's an important occurrence as we delve further into our internet-driven lifestyles. Gibson's cyberspace society, too, is something of a treasure that's plagued by wrongdoers and valiant heroes alike. His novel is one of the few to predict the future and win the triple crown of sci-fi awards; The Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Nebula Award.

Everyone should have read this classic, but you may not realize it's among science fiction novels that have predicated the future. George Orwell's stunning 1984 gave us a depiction world under an all-controlling government called "Big Brother." Does this, maybe, remind you of mass surveillance?

While it may go unnoticed today, much of Orwell's writing was accurate. He has, some might say, predicted our own current state of affairs. Ideas like "Newspeak," Thought Police, censorship, and oppressive government propaganda all swirl in a heavily realistic novel set forty years after the events of World War II. This is why some believe Orwell's 1984 was optimistic, because much of the novel is more or less toned down compared to our modern reality.

Published as far back as 1914, among science fiction novels that have predicted the future, one may very well have played a hand in the creation of the atom bomb. This is conjecture, of course, but the infamous H.G. Wells himself did not actually design or invent the nuclear bomb. He may or may not have given Dr. Leo Szilard the idea, though.

Szilard is, after all, the man who first split the atom and eventually went on to idealize the destructive power of these nuclear weapons. Wells' The World Set Free told of an invention a tad bit different—it was actually a uranium hand grenade with more radiation than a normal bomb. What I'm sure H.G. Wells failed to notice was that his concept was three decades ahead of its time.

You might be familiar with Stanley Kubrik's masterpiece of a film, but what you don't know is that Arthur C. Clarke's literary rendition is among science fiction novels that have predicted the future. Of all the plentitude of imaginary things that could have been foretold from 2001: A Space Odyssey, none other than the iPad was one of them.

Obviously they weren't called iPads in the book, but Clarke's "electronic papers" are definitely reminiscent of the very sophisticated and advanced pieces of machinery we all now use today. These pieces of technology in the book worked almost identical to our modern iPads by showcasing news and other important evens to the characters in the story.

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About the Creator

George Herman

Call me a nerd, that’s what I am: Star Wars fanatic, Grand Theft Auto champion, comic book connoisseur, and a long-time lyricist. So, call me a nerd, but that’s not all I am!

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