Where’s my jetpack?

Wide-eyed children of the eighties watched in astonishment as Michael J. Fox (a.k.a. Marty McFly) shredded pavement on a hovering skateboard in Back to the Future Part II. The hoverboard was just like a skateboard, but with one crucial difference: no wheels. His pink and teal board had “magnetic” pads on the bottom and with a quick push-off could silently cruise over grass, pavement, and even water. While this highly desirable piece of movie technology seems very plausible, it crushingly remains fiction. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “Thank you for breaking my heart, Michael J. Fox.”

Where’s My Jetpack?: A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived

by Daniel H. Wilson

Ah, how often I’ve shouted that exact phrase. It’s the 21st century, for heaven’s sake, now WHERE IS MY JETPACK, why does my house lack a transporter room, and when do I get my robot maid? Good grief — Firefox is even flagging “jetpack” as an unknown word. This isn’t the 21st century I signed up for!

Daniel Wilson understands this frustration. (So does my husband, who saw this book and bought it for me, and who now must put up with me reading the funny bits out loud.) The book examines, with decent science and great humour, just what’s up with all this great stuff they promised us: whether it exists; if not, why not; and if so, where and how you can get your hands on it.

Though fiery explosions brought on the demise of commercial airships, a simple fact remains: Someday, the fate of the free world may rest solely upon your ability to pilot a stolen Nazi zeppelin.

Yes, Daniel Wilson understands what this is all about.

Wherever a dangerous new technology exists, there is a guy with cool goggles and streaky blond hair waiting to shatter his fibula. Totally.

(All quotes from the book.)

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