Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?
Brian Fies's 2012 graphic novel Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? expresses a beautiful, melancholic and hopeful longing for (and suspicion of) the futuristic optimism of America's 20th century, starting with the 1939 World's Fair. Cory Doctorow finally got caught up with the future and read it.
Whatever Happened? uses a wonderful collage technique to tell its story, including doctored photos, TV scans, paper souvenirs and newspaper scans from the 1939 World's Fair, Disneyland's early years, the Apollo Program and science pulps. It's told as a series of contrasting vignettes that come in pairs.
The first half of each of these sets up the relationship between a young boy and his father, who start off with a shared, optimistic sense of the future, but whose feelings diverge as the father's view of the future becomes increasingly dark and alienated, between fear of nuclear annihilation and technical obsolescence, while the boy (who is a man by the end of the book) experiences his own break with technological optimism through a disillusionment with the military-industrial complex and corporatism.
The second half of each pair is a standalone four-color old-fashioned comic, bound right into the book as a separate signature, presenting the adventures of Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid, a stand-in for every science hero of the golden pulp age. Like the boy and his father, Cap Crater and the Cosmic Kid are changed by the ages, enlisted to fight Nazis and the Red Menace, to shill for the Marshall Plan and, eventually, to be phased out as no longer with the times.
In setting up this one-two rhythm, Fies creates a beautiful zoom-in/zoom-out effect, going from a very arch and funny and broad commentary on society (the comic books) and its individuals (the boy and his father). We've all heard the old "where is my jetpack? where is my flying car?" schtick, but Fies is going further and longer here, taking a core sample of the Gernsback Conitnuaa, the futures that shaped our past.
Fies perfectly captures my own ambivalence about the future, the sense that we tremble on the verge of an age of miracles and an age of disasters. Or both. He plumps for a happier ending that I generally do, but that's OK, as I'm delighted to discover people who aren't as pessimistic as I am about these things.
(Scans ganked from RobertDay)
Apple released this lovely new commercial featuring Carl Sagan reading from his magnificent 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, now available as an audiobook. This surprising partnership spurred Adweek to interview my friend Ann Druyan, Sagan’s wife, collaborator, and creative director of the Voyager Golden Record, about being […]
The Action Lab took a maglev gyroscope and placed it inside a sealed chamber to see what happens to a levitating gyroscope in a vacuum. A lot of people took issue with the experiment’s setup and explanation, but it’s interesting nonetheless. He responded to those concerns: Hi everyone! I see a lot of comments that […]
Shocking footage, taken from a nearby aircraft, shows a jetliner spraying its appalling chemical payload into our skies. Traffic 12 o'clock pic.twitter.com/g5QjlQ5v8z— Airplane Pictures ✈ (@iLove_Aviation) June 19, 2017
Although flagship smartphones are unlikely to adopt heavy-duty outer casing anytime soon, you can always prepare your device for the outdoors with a beefy case and and an external battery like this Nomad Tile Trackable PowerPack, available in the Boing Boing Store for $119.95.The Nomad Tile can fully recharge an iPhone 7 over three times […]
Even though credit cards now feature an EMV chip for securing transactions, they still have to include the magnetic strip for compatibility with older point of sale systems. Because of this, there’s no way for the chip’s new security capabilities to protect against card skimmers in the wild.How do you protect yourself from legacy-technology-induced fraud? […]
As the old saying goes, “You should sit in meditation for 30 minutes every day. Unless you are too busy, in which case you should meditate for an hour.” Since most of us have an endless list of things to do and people to see, carving out quiet time can feel impossible, especially when most […]