The Reality - John Lewell staggers on to 2050
'You got it all wrong'
trouble with the year 2050 was that novelist Sam North and his old friend,
the former journalist and literary critic John Lewell, were 99 and 105
respectively. They were sipping viagra-flavored cappuccino in a London
branch of Moonbucks, the trendy offshoot of the quasi-military Starbucks
empire which owned Boeing and the remnants of Microsoft -- two other businesses
that had once flourished in America's great north-west.
"Do you remember writing that essay about the year 2050 for the Economist
competition at the turn of the millennium?" asked John, with a mischievous
glint in his eye.
"Nothing happened that you said would happen, did it?"
"Not true," said Sam. "In fact, I'll show you, because
there's a copy of it on my desk in Vancouver -- and I could easily jump
over there right now to get it, then you'd see I was right about a lot
"So how exactly ARE the nuclear-powered hip replacements working
these days?" queried John. He was a bit envious of Sam's bionic hip
replacements because they enabled his friend to move around the world
at a frenetic pace, even on one occasion crossing the Arctic Circle which
had frozen solid after the 2025 over-correction to Global Warming.
"Just fine," said Sam. "What's more, I've almost finished
paying for them."
Sam's autobiography, "Hopping Mad," had just edged Chelsea Clinton-Kennedy's
biography of her father out of the Number One bestseller spot, one of
many successes that helped Sam afford the operation.
"I was right about Chelsea marrying a Kennedy," said Sam, after
"Yes, yes, but that was probably the only correct prediction in the
entire essay," John pointed out. "All that stuff about English-speaking
Americans being driven into an enclave was a bit wide of the mark, wasn't
"OK, OK, so they all left the planet, and you were right about gigatechnology
enabling people to manufacture spaceships thousands of miles long by capturing
asteroids and extracting steel to make the structure in space. But America
certainly is Spanish, isn't it?"
John admitted that it was. Not that he'd been there recently. He'd been
too busy helping his tenth wife design their second child, with all the
endless arguments such a procedure entailed. Janine wanted a fashion model
like herself while John kept picking gene combos to ensure a literary
genius. Eventually they agreed on a sort of female Dostoievsky with great
legs and the usual built-in resilience to common diseases and bad grammar.
"Anyway, doesn't time fly?" said Sam. "Seems like only
yesterday we were nodding to the Queen Mother at Ascot."
"Yes, it must be a couple of months," said John. "But I
hope I look as fit as she does when I'm 150. Of course, she could have
been secretly cloned, you know."
John knew as well as anyone that cloning had been outlawed for twenty
years, ever since the Bavarians had rescued Hitler's DNA from his toothbrush
and then succeeded in cloning an entire platoon of Hitlers that scared
the living bejesus out of the people who ran the First World Federation.
"I predict they'll bring back cloning," said Sam. "Blair's
in favor of it."
"Leo's in favor of a lot of silly things, just like his Dad was,"
observed John. "But just because he's President of the Federation
doesn't mean he'll ever get it through the Senate. Personally I don't
think anyone cares."
Sam was bound, at least, to agree on that last point. After all, the eighty-five
percent of the population left behind after the Great Exodus to an unspecified
Elsewhere in the galaxy -- some two or three billion souls -- spent all
their time wired into the Net, enjoying hyperrealistic touchy-feely sex
simulations with virtual partners of their choice. It was hard to resist
a guaranteed orgasm at a dollar a pop, and even harder when the Federation
paid as much as a dollar-fifty during times of social unrest.
"Don't move," hissed Sam, suddenly, looking over John's shoulder
to the street outside the window. "I don't like the look of that
police-bot that just landed. It's staring at us through one of its telephoto
"Probably wants your autograph," suggested John. "They
sell that sort of thing on the black market to buy meat. Round here the
police-bots have eaten all the stray cats. If you ask me, flesh-eating
robots were the worst invention of the Year 2000."
"You flatter me," said Sam. "But I think it's you he's
John knew exactly what the police-bot was doing: sorting through its memory
bank to see if he had paid this year's $25,000 TV license fee, which of
course he hadn't. Funding the BBC was one issue successive national and
federal governments had dodged consistently for the past seventy years.
Several million people now languished in jail for not having a license,
even though nobody watched BBC TV anymore.
"Good job I brought a disguise with me," said John, putting
on a Groucho Marx nose/glasses/moustache. The police-bot hesitated, then
flexed its undercarriage and flew off to bother someone else.
The decline of television had coincided with a mass movement to boycott
products that were marketed too aggressively. "Marketing overload"
had begun at the end of the last century with "Star Wars" and
"Pokemon" and other phenomena, resulting in people tuning out,
and, within months of each launch, refusing to buy the billions of products
thrust at them by greedy corporations. The result had been a decline in
consumerism, a capitalist crash, wrecked economies, millions out of work,
desperate poverty, rampant disease, and, of course, the great pandemics
"I was right about the pandemics," said Sam, getting back to
"But you said 2009. That's four years out," objected John. "Four
twenty-first century years are equal to forty eighteenth century years,
so that's like saying the Battle of Waterloo took place in 1975."
"Details," said Sam.
John sighed. There was no way to say it, but Sam's vision of the future
had actually triggered many of the events his friend had described, mainly
because Sam had gone on to win the Economist prize and subsequently become
one of the most influential futurists of his generation. People read his
predictions, took them on board, and set about turning them into reality.
The Great Wall of Mexico, built by the U.S. Government to prevent excessive
immigration, was but one example.
"You never predicted that we'd still be here, fifty years later,
despite the pandemics, the Exodus, the rats," said John.
"I never said a word about rats."
"Don't move," hissed John, suddenly, looking over Sam's shoulder.
"It's a big brown one, over there near the rubbish basket. Honestly,
how could you have forgotten the rats!"
© John Lewell
< Back to Index
< About the Author
< Reply to this Article