Weird to think that, very shortly, most modern SF will become dated — not by the way future humans are depicted interacting with computers or some such, but by the offhand assertion, no doubt buried somewhere in an infodump, that their home solar system has nine planets.
the other Stephanie says
Just this morning I was reading bits of Danny Dunn and the Voice from Space (on a nostalgia kick at the moment), and hit a bit where they were talking about nine planets.
Of course, that series is significantly dated in other ways, since it started in 1958 and was published through, I think the late 70s, and while the science was cutting-edge and speculative at the time, it’s seriously dated now. It’s pretty interesting to see what they got right, though, and how parts were socially progressive for its time. The character Irene is a friend of Danny’s, and wants to be a physicist whe she grows up. When plot calls for someone to be coquettish and traditionally girly, she fits the bill, but considering it was 1958, just for a girl to say she wanted to be a scientist and for no other characters to contradict her or tell her she can’t do that is pretty impressive, I think.
There’s a forerunner to a personal computer in Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine, wherein the kids learn over the course of the book that to program the machine to do their homework for them, they have to learn the material thoroughly, and have managed to do significantly more studying they they would have normally. Even though the computer itself is a mix of futuristic – taking voice input – and retro – hooked up to a typewriter to produce its output, the idea that you have to thoroughly understand what to do before you can tell the computer how to do it is spot on, and there’s even a problem with the machine when its temperature regulator goes out of whack.