Unlike any other genre, science fiction is specifically in the business of keeping our eyes on the horizon, constantly imagining what tomorrow might look like, and what we as a species need to do to get there (or avoid getting there, depending on how bleak the predictions are). Over the decades science fiction stories have predicted everything from broad social movements to specific bits of technology (sometimes disturbingly so). Of course, they don’t always get it right, or I’d be writing this from my lunar apartment before taking my flying car over to the spaceport for my vacation to Alpha Centauri.
The very act of writing science fiction is inherently a predictive art form, even if you’re just trying to tell a ripping good yarn. Occasionally, however, some of the genre’s luminaries have set out specifically to try and second-guess the future. The legendary Robert Heinlein did just that way back in 1949, penning a list of predictions for the year 2000. It was eventually published in Galaxy magazine in 1952. Now, the website Lists of Note has posted Heinlein’s predictions. With 2000 now over a decade in our rearview, how well did Heinlein’s predictions turn out? Let’s take a look at the list, and we’ll track his success as we go.