Arthur C. Clark Prescient Again

Beyond just being a good writer, one of the things that Arthur C. Clark did in his science fiction was to posit technologies that seemed outlandish, but turn out to be fairly prescient.  For example, the Fountains of Paradise posited a space elevator approach that seemed unreal when I first read it but now is being actively considered.

I am reminded of this as I read this story about photo-shopping out cigarettes from old childrens book photos in a spasm of political correctness.  I won't jump into the fray on this one, except to observe that Arthur Clark actually predicted this in his book Ghost from the Grand Banks.  It actually was not one of his better works, being a rather listless tale of multiple entrepreneurs competing to Raise the Titanic (Cussler did the story with a lot more dramatic drive if poorer science).  Each of the entrepreneurs in Clark's story had made their money from some interesting new technology they had perfected.  One of them had invented a series of digital processing algorithms to remove cigarettes and cigarette smoke from old movies in a response to a hypothesized backlash against smoking.  In 1990, I thought this was the stupidest and most unlikely thing I had ever heard.  Oops.

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