Tech TV
Book Review

Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow
ISBN 0-7897-2810-9
288 Pages
$29.99 US, $46.99 CAN


“The year 1994: From out of space comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the Moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man’s civilization is cast in ruin.”

-Intro to “Thundarr the Barbarian”

That was the prediction of the 1980 cartoon “Thundarr the Barbarian”. Since 1994 has come and gone it’s pretty safe to say that the dire situation predicted by the creators of Thundarr didn’t come to pass. This illustrates the problem with speculating about the future. The future, being what it is, is notoriously hard to predict. Ed Zolli realizes the inherent difficulty of predicting the future but still remains bold enough to edit together some well-informed guesses in “Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow” (say it out loud while making a fake echo for maximum coolness).

“Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow” has a well-ordered layout. First divided into very broad but related sections like “Our Tools” or “Our Society.” The broad categories are winnowed down a bit to section titles like “Computing” or “Nanotechnology” followed finally by individual article with titles like “Broadband” and “Cyborgs.” This makes the book easy to navigate and reference but saps some of the fun out of “Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow”. Since you always know exactly what’s coming there’s never one of those “Wow, look what I found” feeling you while thumbing through less organized futuristic looking tomes.

The real meat of the book is, of course, the individual articles. Each article is accompanied by a timeline for likely adoption of the topic at hand, two circles indicting relative risk and benefit, a color photograph or artists rendering and a few related links for those still curious after reading the article. It’s visually pleasing format and very well laid out but the topics and prose are really what we’re after. The topics for the articles run from utterly predictable “Gene Therapy” (already in use to a small extent) to the seemingly outlandish “Floating Cities”(a 4,500 foot boat). I prefer the more outlandish future predications but “Catalog of Tomorrow” keeps mostly to the rational. I suppose this is because the articles are well written and researched and not mere speculation that some authors are known to trot out. I would predict that “Catalog of Tomorrow” will probably fare better than average if reviewed for accuracy in a hundred years, still some groundless guessing would have been great for entertainment value.

No one book is going to make everyone happy and this was the case for me while reading “Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow”. It’s not that I think it’s a bad book, it’s just not what I am used to when authors opine on the future. Since any book about the future basically amounts to little more than an educated guess I like my guesses with a little less legwork and a little more guess work. That’s what makes this kind of book fun for me (you know, like the laughable “Dow 36,000”). I am also objective enough to realize that even if it’s not my personal cup of tea it’s still a pretty good book. If you are partial to a more factual, logically sound bit of crystal gazing then “Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow” is for you.

Bottom Line: Nicely written, nicely illustrated, and even oversized. “Tech TV’s Catalog of Tomorrow” is above average in every way.

MacMice Rating: 3 out of 5

Chris Seibold

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