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Review of The Shape Of Tomorrow

The Shape of Tomorrow, written by George Soule.

1958, published by new American Library of World Literature, Inc.

     Not a work of fiction or collection of short stories, but one man's late 50s analysis of what our future will be like in the far away year of 1983. George was an economist that wrote books primary about (can you guess?) economics. Although to his credit, he did write 16 books. I'm still working on getting one published.

Gaze ye on the bright future that is ours!

     I don't know how great George was as an economist, but his predictions of future life fell a bit short. That is what makes this book an interesting read; his bright future of the coming 25 years is our past of 27 years ago.

     What did George's vision hold?
-Twenty-four hour work weeks with machines performing routine office jobs.
-Atomic powered railroads.
-Automatic computers
-People will take up gardening
-Everyone will have insurance financed mostly by employers.*
-Atomic factories.
-Better soap.

     What did we get?
-Plenty of material for Hollywood to make movie and TV remakes for 2000 and beyond.
-Lovely nostalgia.
-80s Music
-Computers, we got that alright.

     Honestly, I didn't read the entire book. George was an economist, and he brought all the dynamism and thrills of that topic to his speculations of the future.

Tom looked at the graph. The thin line of the chart maintained a steady increase. Then, to his horror, the mark drearily drifted downward at the end of the fiscal year. The line raced toward a third quarter loss of 34.89%. Tom screamed. "It can't be." Like a line of blood falling into the mouth of Hell, the budgetary predictor indicated a net loss of 49.54% and a period of weak economic growth.

Nothing like that at all.

     He did make some interesting predictions concerning our leisure and described a setting in which we would have all this free time to be involved in "passive pursuits." Although he mentions music and art, George believed we would be more involved in hobbies such as RC airplanes and model railroading. Also, there would be an increase of "amateur actors, costumers, stage designers, and directors" producing plays. The demands to join church choirs would be amazing. Part of that prediction I see more in evidence now with YouTube and personalized web sites. One can (and does) spend hours on YouTube looking at skits, movies, songs, art, dance, and other methods of expression done by amateurs.** One wonders how eager they would have been to perform/produce decades ago without the medium of the internet. It's great in that these individuals can freely express their efforts, bad in that they are balanced by vids of drunkards putting firecrackers in places firecrackers really really really shouldn't go.
     I already know how stupid we can be, please stop trying to surprise me.
     Went a bit off track there. I've touched on what The Shape Of Tomorrow contains and believe you get the idea. It's fun to look through. There is a lot of material on the economic impact these future wonders will have on the economy. Well, George is an economics dude.
     I found it at a used book store for a buck. I kid about the wide misses in George's predictions, but here and there the nail is hit on the head.*** His forecast of increasing medical concerns being heart aliments and mental illness is accurate.

*No, seriously, it's on page 68.

**Before anyone gets huffy at the use of the word 'amateur,' it is meant in the sense that one does it for their own pleasure or have not yet reached professional recognition. Not that whatever one has done isn't as good as something labeled Professional.

*** On page 63, he is spot on about bathroom cleansers and kitchen cleanliness.


what hell
Eldon Litchfield

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