I know I previously opined that the quality of writing at Wired has deteriorated, but all is forgiven. Maybe.
Somehow I came across an article of theirs from 2008 that was a glorious mixture of art and retro-futurism. It was about a book called Battleground 2000. I remember finding these types of books in the library at my junior high. They all had two things in common: clean, spectacular visions of the future and lavish illustrations to thrill a young science fiction fan's heart. You know, things like cities on the Moon or in orbit and factories that manufacture their products with near zero pollution.
All that stuff that never happened.
As you might have surmised from the title, the volume in question deals with how war would be fought in the year 2000, about 20 years after the book's publication date. War is an awful experience and no one should have to go through it, but darn it if Battleground 2000 didn't make it just look so cool. There are laser rays, hovercars, and even "robot missiles"...which actually aren't too far off from a few things we have now. What really didn't transpire was the rocket troop transport. BG2000 envisioned soldiers boarding a rocket that blasts a re-entry vehicle into space only to drop it back down in the middle of hostile territory, deploying troops deep behind enemy lines in about half an hour.
While the books may have missed much of the mark on futurism, they really made up for it as a showcase of vivid and wonderful art. I really do wish I could find these books again and just stare at their wonderful illustrations. Yes, they're pulpy and I'm sure they earn the dismissal of both art aficionados and literary critics who disdain and abhor "genre," but wow. Look at it. Not only could it likely fit in galleries of contemporary, pop, or at least retro-future art, it's just so much fun. Consider this piece of UFO art:
It's from right around the same era, perhaps earlier, but you get the idea. It's the kind of kitschy, pulpy art you can add your own dialogue to. I just hear the young man saying, "Aw man! And I borrowed my Dad's car, too!"
Fortunately, the good ol' interwebs are full galleries of just such magnificence. Trust me. I've wasted plenty of time on them.
Well, not wasted.
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