Shiny Tomorrows

Visions from a tech summit of the past.

photography of a contemporary hallway

Tomorrow’s hero is bloodless and perfect and all are lit from below––even the cow’s udder. It does not smell, and the maidens are all behind glass, sitting in the robot’s lap. In tomorrow, there is one voice and no talking back; the rugs do not slip and it’s rife with clean sailors. Instead of sounding music, tomorrow has the memory of sound.

It’s a little expensive, this tomorrow, and it remains unclear who––beyond these few––will be in attendance.


On this day in 1939, the New York World’s fair opened in Queens, New York. As war raged in Europe, this massive event was built around the theme of “The World of Tomorrow.” It professed to be a celebration of scientific discovery, but serious scientists complained that the emphasis on gadgetry far outweighed any possibility of serious scientific discussion. Einstein, for example, was asked to give a presentation on cosmic rays, but was only allowed five minutes to do so, a limit he said would make any serious explanation impossible. I failed to find a text of this speech this morning, so instead I selected E.B. White’s essay on his visit to the event, which appeared in The New Yorker and is collected in Essays of E.B. White. Today’s post is assembled from borrowed phrases from White’s text.

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

4 thoughts on “Shiny Tomorrows”

  1. Have to love E.B. White. I heard this week that if you consider all of the years in Earth’s lifespan that man has been around, like “civilized man,” it comes down to the equivalent of about the last 4 hours. So those films like Wall-E really seem prescient in a weird way (to me at least). I’m grossed out by the filmmaker David Kronenburg but saw a trailer for a new film he has coming soon on this theme, with Vigo Morteson and others. I’ll hang with the poetic, more mild forecasts instead I think. And also the image and title reminds me of a ride at Disney or Epcot center. Seems it’s all an amusement park ride to us, dunnit?

    1. “Seems it’s all an amusement park . . .” – well said, Bill! That’s the part that is often so chilling.

      1. Yeah like a roller coaster you feel like you’re going to puke or die and everyone is screaming.

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