Reading about Yves Rossy’s unsuccessful attempt to use his jetpack to fly from Morocco to Spain last November brought to mind the voice of the Wizard of Oz, who was asking Rossy: “What do you have that Icarus didn’t have? I’ll tell you, my friend: a ridiculously large support staff.”

When “Jetman” jumped from a plane 6,500 feet above Tangier in Morocco for a flight expected to take a quarter of an hour, the turbulence and clouds drove him low enough that he let go the wing and parachuted into the sea. He was rescued uninjured by the Spanish Coast Guard, who also recovered the wing (which had its own parachute and float.) (The BBC video report is here.)

Didn’t Childhood’s End develop a human society so advanced that it became a popular pastime to rescue adventurers who stranded themselves in life-threatening predicaments?

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Remembering the Future

Every summer journalists write a few more “Where’s my jetpack?” articles that insist on answering rhetorical questions like “Why doesn’t our world look like Frank R. Paul’s covers for Amazing Stories?” But Brian Fies’ Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow represents the first time I’ve seen anybody get a whole novel out of the question:

Fies shows this world through the eyes of a father and son who age very slowly relative to the world around them. Buddy, the son, is about 8 when he and his father visit the 1939 World’s Fair and not too much older when they are building a bomb shelter in their basement in 1955. Fies took that poetic license so he could highlight the parallels between popular science and real life. “This 36 years of American history starts out with society being optimistic and maybe a little naïve about science and technology and ends with society being very pessimistic and cynical,” he said. “It occurred to me that sounded very much like the arc a child goes through from 8 to 19.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]