For all you fans who are obsessed with this troubling question, Bill Willingham explains why we’ll never have the jetpack future portrayed on pulp magazine covers:
Here’s the thing: we want more safety now than we did then. We expect it. Hell, we demand it…. The problem with jetpacks and flying cars is that they aren’t already 100% safe to all potential users. They don’t get, and never will get, the time to develop and perfect that we’ve given our airplanes and ground cars. We have our jetpacks and flying cars and we simply aren’t going to use them….
In his Known Space series of novels and stories, the vastly talented and industrious science fiction author Larry Niven created a race of aliens called the Pierson’s Puppeteers. …They are a species of genetic and cultural cowards. More than anything else they are motivated by the desire, by the all-encompassing need, to be safe….
I’m afraid that’s who we’ve chosen to become… We had our chance at a jetpack future but turned them down.
Better find my unbreakable mirror and count my heads….
[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]