Sunday Book Review: "Where's My Jetpack?"

Last week Toronto was called one of North America's top "Cities of the Future". Before we get too excited, we should stop and think about how today's extrapolation becomes tomorrow's paleo-futurism. These statements usually say much more about the time they were made than the time they predict.

"Where's My Jetpack" by Daniel H. Wilson, Ph.D, is "a guide to the amazing science fiction future that never arrived." In it we learn about some of the inventions that were promised but never appeared or those that appeared but you might not know much about. Everything from jetpacks to robotic pets to food pills is covered. It's a book for everyone who watches "The Jetsons" and feels profoundly ripped off. Like something went very wrong between the early 1960s and the year 2000.

Aside from the entertaining content, it's a nifty looking volume. The illustrations, of which there are plenty, strike a balance between the retro, the current and the futuristic. It's almost perfect bathroom reading and would look beautiful sitting atop any toilet in this city. Or on a coffee table for that matter. Read it on the subway and prepare to read about yourself in Craigslist's Missed Connections.

Although it's true that we still lack many of the inventions in this book, many more are being built and some are already available. We can only hope that the recent predictions about Toronto are as accurate as those about robot pets and not those about "smell-o-vision".

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