14 Times Science Fiction Writers Predicted the Future

All manner of people have made extraordinary future predictions throughout history, but science fiction writers seem to have a particular knack for getting things right. From Jules Verne to George Orwell, sci-fi writers have been frighteningly good at predicting what the future would hold. We may not be living in a dystopian or utopian society as many assumed, but there are plenty of aspects of today's society that make it seem like science fiction writers predicted the future.

H.G. Wells's time machine is still a matter of fiction, but that was only one of his several visions of the future. He had plenty of other predictions of the future that came true. Likewise, Ray Bradbury and Phillip K. Dick were hit and miss with their versions of the future. Some sci-fi authors made vague predictions that can certainly be interpreted as coming true, while others made decisive, intricate predictions that are startling accurate in hindsight.

Unlike Nostradamus, these writers weren't in the business of telling the future. They're all writers first and foremost, futurists who predicted the future second. Their writings reflect both realistic and fantastical versions of various futures they imagined, and their predictions are almost more impressive for that. Much of what these authors wrote was considered totally outlandish at the time, yet a considerable amount of it has come true.

We might not all have flying cars and hoverboards yet, but that technology is no longer unrealistic. Who knows what kind of crazy predictions the sci-fi authors of today are making that might turn out to be true a hundred years from now.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

  • George Orwell Predicted Big Brother

    George Orwell Predicted Big Brother
    Photo: Abee5 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Big Brother was a lot more extreme in George Orwell's classic 1984 than it is today, but he still got a lot of things right. We may not have the thought police, but we do have CCTV cameras just about everywhere.

    Add that to all the other ways companies and the government can monitor citizens - from phone calls to online activity - and you've got a veritable surveillance state. In China, where things like the Internet are highly moderated and monitored, 1984 is even more foreboding.

  • Jules Verne Predicted the Moon Landing

    Jules Verne Predicted the Moon Landing
    Photo: Wikipedia

    Jules Verne certainly had his fair share of future predictions. One of the most impressively accurate came courtesy of his short story, "From the Earth to the Moon," in which he predicted that man would travel to the moon. He got many facts about the voyage right, including elements of the space shuttle, the month it would launch, from where it would launch, and the number of astronauts on board.

  • Philip K. Dick Imagined a World Full of Virtual Reality and Holograms

    Philip K. Dick Imagined a World Full of Virtual Reality and Holograms
    Photo: rlerdorf / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Several of Phillip K. Dicks most famous works, including Minority Report, were full of virtual and augmented reality. The author imagined worlds where everything around you could be something else, thanks to electronics that altered the perception of reality.

    In 2016, several virtual reality systems are set to take over gaming and entertainment, likely proving Dick's predictions to be accurate.

  • Robert Heinlein Predicted the Cold War

    Robert Heinlein Predicted the Cold War
    Photo: Wikimedia

    Five years before the United States dropped its nuclear bombs, Heinlein predicted their existence and how they would lead to the Cold War. He imagined the United States would be the first country to develop nuclear weapons and that a heated and dangerous battle to catch up would ensue.

  • Edward Bellamy Came Up with Credit Cards

    Edward Bellamy Came Up with Credit Cards
    Photo: Wikimedia

    In his 1887 novel Looking Backward, Bellamy describes a concept that is relatively close to that of the modern day credit card. In his future utopian society, set in the year 2000, citizens use credit cards, in lieu of physical money, to make purchases.

    The credit cards are based on money in a central bank controlled by the government. In the same book, Bellamy also describes what are essentially modern department stores.

  • Aldous Huxley Predicted Genetic Engineering

    Aldous Huxley Predicted Genetic Engineering
    Photo: Wikimedia

    In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley imagines a future that is dominated by genetic engineering. In his future, people are genetically engineered to fit perfectly into various classes and societal structures. There is no room for imagination or freedom, as everything is essentially mapped out according to how you were engineered.

    We haven't fallen into the pessimistic future that Huxley imagined quite yet, though the modern process of genetic engineering is quite similar to what he describes.