Tuesday, 18 November 2014


Much futuristic hard sf assumes not only spacecraft but also "aircars," used, like motor cars, for personal travel except that they can fly and land or take off on the street outside a dwelling or workplace. Such vehicles are in each of what I call the triad of future histories:

Robert Heinlein's Future History;
Poul Anderson's Psychotechnic History;
Anderson's Technic History.

In "Un-Man," Robert Naysmith:

walks to a parking lot;
palms and thus opens the door of his "boat," described as an "...ovoid shell..."
-Poul Anderson, The Psychotechnic League (New York, 1981), p. 49;
makes, apparently, a vertical take-off, on jets;
leaves his passenger at her house;
flies to a city where his autopilot finds its way through heavy air traffic;
lands on a downward ramp of a large building and enters the garage;
on a later journey, intersects a radio beam that lets local traffic control take over;
on that occasion, lands in a side lane, then resumes manual driving on the ground;
drives through a district where many residents commute to work by airbus;
parks his "boat" outside a house.

In "How To Be Ethnic In One Easy Lesson," James Ching, while still a school student:

flits to the Riefenstahl household;
hopes that Betty Riefenstahl will join him in flitting over the ocean or down to the waters of Baja, then to a restaurant with outsystem food;
instead, accepts her suggestion to visit Adzel;
lands his car on the strip outside Adzel's hut.

Although Ching is commendably ambitious to get out into space, he already enjoys much greater freedom of movement on Earth, and through its atmosphere, than his ancestors were used to.

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