I think we can all agree with the maxim, always, always, start with a worn out cliche. But I don’t need to tell that to one of the most respected newspaper editors in Seattle history (true fact, kids, you can look it up). Well done Guzzo:
Colonel George Quixby tapped the buzzer at his desk, and in seconds the door to his office opened to let in his secretary, Jean Marshall. She was a sight for sore eyes — or for any eyes, for that matter, and the colonel smiled, as he always did when she entered. They had been a working team for more years than he could count, and he hoped it would go on for ever — as well it might thanks to the latest experiments at the U.S. Science and Space Center he commanded.
Sight for sore eyes, I’m glad they’ll still use that phrase in the future. More important, can Quixby not count very high? My cousin’s kid impressed us all at a Mother’s Day get together with his ability to count to 100, and he’s 4. The next paragraph says they’re 50 and 74, almost 75. So Quixby can’t count half as high as a 2011 4 year old.
Also, we’re a paragraph in and I’m pretty sure Quixby is Dixy, you know, in the future and a man. The only question now: is Guzzo Jean Marshall? OK, another question: how up its own ass can the first page get?
The advances in human living they’d seen in the previous century and the early 2200s might have read like a science-fiction novel to their American neighbors a century or two earlier.
You’re writing it, dummy.
Anyway then someone from Illinois calls to complain about the fact that the Space and Science Center has the same initials as the Nazi SS. Ignoring the center part, I suppose. He threatens to blow the center up (even though it’s in New Mexico) but don’t worry, they soon find out it wasn’t that the person doesn’t like Nazis, it’s that the Space and Science Center made his wife younger, and she left him. Telephones still exist in 2220, and they can be traced by some random secretary, so that’s awesome. Then Quixby reminisces about the fact that people can live longer and reads that they might be able to live forever. Quixby and Marshall talk about how good it will be to live forever. Jet packs were invented in 2185 because they had just invented hydrogen fuel, so no cars. But don’t worry, the trucking industry still survives, for now:
The colonel paused a moment to draw a deep breath, then continued. “Only the large cargo-carrying vehicles — for example trucks, cargo planes, and cargo ships — survived and, in fact, did very well with the roads and highways all to themselves. Maybe we’ll soon find a way to make them obsolete if our experiments here at the Science Center materialize. Downstairs in the lab our people report their longtime research will soon bear fruit. They are sure they can transmit any solid object molecule by molecule from one site to another — even across oceans. What was once pure science-fiction is now reality.
First off, original ideas for science fiction: Jet packs and transporters. Second, if you’re thinking maybe I took the part where Quixby is most condescending to his secretary, let me assure you that I skipped the part where he calls her (and remember she’s 50) a “good girl.” So, no, explaining that cargo ships carry cargo isn’t as bad as it gets. Third, do planes and ships use roads in the future? Fourth, the most exciting thing that happens in the whole chapter is someone calls in from another state and then someone in that other state talks to him.
Then Quixby takes a nap. End of chapter 1.
I originally left the question mark off the end of the chapter name. It’s been corrected. This and any other transcription mistake are, obviously, my fault.