Flight is freedom. The power to rise into the air and reach a destination unshackles us from gravity, distance, topography, and time. This is why we, as a publication, return to flight so often. It is humanity’s greatest victory against the limitations of being human.
It can also, at its fringe at least, seem a bit fantastical. For example, I recently shook hands with Bertrand Piccard, adventurer and pilot of the Solar Impulse, just before he set off from California on the first cross-country flight of a sun-powered plane. I pointed out that the craft seemed a bit rickety. In order to make it on today’s meager batteries, it needs to be unbelievably light. Piccard smiled brilliantly. “When the Wright Brothers went up, no one could have imagined a plane carrying 300 people,” he said. He’s right. Dreaming far beyond today’s limitations made flight possible.
That was the spirit with which we undertook our survey of the Future of Flight . We want to provide a showcase for all that could be when you strip limitations away. Likewise, it was with this same spirit that we undertook an experiment.
Modern life looks a lot like the dreams of the past century. Why not ask today’s best sci-fi minds what they dream about?As Hollywood’s summer flood of rockets and phasers began, we asked sci-fi writers and artists (people whose award-winning work will undoubtedly be optioned soon, at which point they’ll stop emailing us back) to take on a few big topics. Cities. Work. Space travel. The self. Modern life looks a lot like the dreams of the past century. Why not ask today’s best sci-fi minds what they dream about? We’ve also included whole chapters of out-there, visionary sci-fi in our digital edition. And on your tablet, July includes my conversation with M. Night Shyamalan, who reinvented our planet as it might look 1,000 years from now in his first space opera, After Earth. You’ll also find a hard-core geek-out between writers Dan Engber and Erik Sofge, who dissect the jetpacks and robot interfaces of summer blockbusters in this issue. Please let us know if you enjoy our effort to forecast tomorrow based on today’s dreams. Because we just might do it again.