- Jack McDevitt
I’ve always suspected that my passion for science fiction evolved from Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. My dad took me to the local theater, the Bell, on Saturdays to watch those dizzying rocket ships take the heroes in pursuit of Killer Kane and Ming the Merciless. I was four years old at the time.
A lot has happened since then. The Japanese hit Pearl Harbor, somebody invented the jet plane, we began watching the Phillies on TV, and polio disappeared after a vaccine was developed. The Russians put Yuri Gagarin in orbit, and I realized I’d live long enough to see us land on Mars. In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin arrived on the moon.
Things seemed to be happening so quickly that it made me dizzy. I did the math one day and realized my dad had been born before the Wright Brothers flew. My mom occasionally talked about how her family had reacted when they got their first radio. And a few years later, during the twenties, the world was shocked to discover that the universe didn’t end at the edge of the Milky Way.
We were changing in other ways as well, ways that had not so much to do with technology. Racial prejudices haven’t gone away, but there seem to be fewer of the nitwits. Marriage has moved in different directions. And if Ming were still around he’d be known as the Benevolent.
In 1976, we picked up a computer. That was before I’d ever heard of an internet. The world is moving quickly. At least some aspects of it are. There’s a lot of talk among neurologists about life extension, not only halting the ageing process, but reversing it. We are getting our first automated cars. And economists are concerned that AI’s are about to start eliminating jobs. (Or maybe they’ve already been at it for a while.)
So people like us enjoy science fiction, not because of Flash and Buck or Captain Kirk or The Twilight Zone, but because an army of scientists have been improving our lives. Thanks to all. We’re fortunate to live in so blessed an age.
And no, I haven’t forgotten about the atom bomb. But that’s for another time.