I remember either watching or reading an interview or discussion with a very well known author, a LONG time ago, and one of the comments he made was something to the effect of: although sci-fi predicted a lot of things, we all got it wrong about the moon landings and such being televised, and witnessed by millions. In other words, in the literature of the time, moon landings and the like were experienced alone or maybe with "command".

Any ideas who it was and which interview I might be trying to remember?


1 Answer 1


I found two writers who commented on the issue, Ben Bova and Isaac Asimov, either or both could be repeating an insight he'd seen from someone else, so I'm not sure where it really originated, though I suspect Asimov since he repeated the comment in multiple works, and his is also the earliest example I could find.

In Ben Bova's 1981 book The High Road, I found this quote (in google books snippets here and here):

Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein—every major and most minor science fiction writers took a crack at the first-flight-to-the-Moon story. Not one of them predicted that the first lunar landing would be televised back to billions of eager watchers back on Earth.

And I found this metafilter thread where people thought it came from Asimov, I recall him commenting on this in some essay as well (and I hadn't read either of the two below). The earliest reference they were able to find was the essay "Our Future in Cosmos—Computers" which appeared in The Impact of Science on Society (1985), where he wrote:

Decades ago we science fiction writers foresaw a great many things about space travel, but two things we did not foresee. In all the time that I wrote stories about our first Moon landing and about the coming of television, nobody, it far as I know, in the pages of the science fiction magazines, combined the two. Nobody foresaw that when the first Moon landing took place, people on Earth would watch it on television. Nor did science fiction writers foresee that in taking ships out into space, they would depend quite so much on computers. The computerization of space flight was something that eluded them completely. So, I have two broad areas that I can discuss in talking about our destiny in the cosmos. One area is the future of computerization, and the other area is the future of space itself.

But I just found an earlier reference, in Asimov on Physics from 1976, where in this snippet he writes:

One thing that no science fiction writer visualized, however, as far as I know, was that the landings on the Moon would be watched by people on Earth by way of television.

  • Bingo! It's the second one in my case, and the wording sounds so familiar that I'm guessing I read it. Great answer. Now I'm going to watch YouTube all night.
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:25
  • Actually the longer quote was helpful to me (before your edit) - because I also remember the second part about computers.
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 16:41
  • 1
    Put the other longer quote back for reference since it was the one uhoh remembered.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:52
  • Thanks @Hypnosifl - Now I see why it stuck in my head all this time.
    – uhoh
    Commented Aug 26, 2015 at 9:05

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