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Where Is My Flying Car?: A Memoir of Future Past
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Where Is My Flying Car?: A Memoir of Future Past

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  298 ratings  ·  57 reviews
Back in the 60s we were all sure there would be flying cars in our future. Were the futurists and SF writers of the day just wrong? Or has something more interesting and important happened? Will we ever get flying cars? This book offers a compelling analysis of the past and a surprising view of the future.
Kindle Edition, 609 pages
Published July 1st 2018
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A refreshingly idiosyncratic, indulgent book, expressive of its author's whole personality in a way that no anodyne pop-science or academic non-fiction could touch. That alone makes it a fun read, but it's also a bracing wake-up call to the imagination and a compelling-if-not-entirely-satisfying exploration of the dynamics of cultural evolution in technological progress (very much in the classic sense of that phrase).

Most of the book is framed around the titular flying car. There are tons of ch
Peter McCluskey
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you only read the first 3 chapters, you might imagine that this is the history of just one industry (or the mysterious lack of an industry).

But this book attributes the absence of that industry to a broad set of problems that are keeping us poor. J. Storrs Hall (aka Josh) looks at the post-1970 slowdown in innovation that Cowen describes in The Great Stagnation[1]. The two books agree on many symptoms, but describe the causes differently: where Cowen says we ate the low hanging fruit, Josh sa
Trying to figure out where to start on this review. I think it's: 🤯

In this self-published, Kindle-only book (just $4.12 CAD! Apparently it's $π USD) J. Storrs Hall digs deeply into the question of why we don't have flying cars, which is ostensibly the focus. However I think the back half of the title "A Memoir of Future Past" is actually the focus: why isn't the future (i.e., the present) as awesome as we thought it would be? Why don't we have cheap, near-infinite clean energy? Why are healthcar
Dan Elton
Feb 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's no other book quite like this. This is quickly emerging as a foundational text for the burgeoning cultural movement around progress studies.

Here, Dr. J. Storrs Hall explores why we don’t yet have flying cars and uses the answers he finds as launching off points for a broader discussion on the causes of The Great Stagnation that started in the late 1960s.

Broadly speaking this is a book about how the future could be even more glorious than what was envisioned in the 1960s, how we lost ou
Dec 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where Is My Flying Car? investigates what Tyler Cowen has called "The Great Stagnation," a strange period in the United States between roughly 1970 and the present where productivity has grown relatively slowly and few new innovations have transformed our lives save for advances in information technology. If we set computers aside, our planes in 2021 are somewhat slower than 1970, there have been few step change improvements in robotics, nuclear reactors are shutting down, and our space program ...more
Jan 05, 2022 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2022
This was gifted to me. I found it really dry. With long sentences, that were a chore to parse. The best section of it contrasted the Jetsons with the average family of its broadcast day.
Allan Aksiim
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
At times rambling but fascinating. Speculating yet mostly truthful or at least with solid math. Not everything written here should be taken at face value. While reading own research and fact-checking is recommended.

I would consider this an antidote to Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment Not a perfect book, but sufficiently well argumented one. For example Hall reversed the Jevons Paradox for me. Paradox being in the fact that if something (like a car engine) becomes more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is basically about what the world could look like if the technological progress from the late 1800s through the 1950s or so continued to today. It has more interesting ideas per page than any other book I can remember reading, and much of it seems technically feasible and worth pursuing. Hall's history of VTOL aircraft development was fascinating, and despite knowing quite a bit about VTOLs already, he covered a lot of developments that were unfamiliar to me.

I'm familiar with Tyler Cow
Sandy Maguire
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
EDIT 2021-12-22:

Well, I finally got around to finishing this book, and it's actually fantastic if you can slog through it. This is the first book I've seen in a long time that has any coherent view of what the future should be, that isn't just that our phones will get faster and our cameras will have more megapixels. It's inspiring as hell, though not without flaws.

Started off great, but it meanders aggressively and was unable to maintain the author's or my attention. His claim i
Dec 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is the latest release by Stripe Press, which focuses on publishing Science and Technology books. Many are republished books that have long since been out of print and are hard to find, or selling for $800 on Amazon because they were mentioned on some podcast. I have bought most of them, the covers are colorful and unique. J. Storrs Hall originally published Where is My Flying Car? in 2018 in a version that was available online. Several different people have notably focused on the thesis tha ...more
Aug 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Offers a lot of great insight on the causes of the decline of technological progress since the 60s. And also offers good insights on the future of technology that could happen, if humanity dropped the new, green, religion, and went full steam ahead to develop and use energy for the betterment of the human condition - instead of limiting ourselves to 'save nature' and praying to the wind and sun gods for our daily energy. Then we will finally have our flying cars, and much more! However, the book ...more
Apr 03, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was going to be a discussion about why technology and innovation has stagnated in the last half century, and what we can do to fix it.

However, the book covers this topic almost in passing, offering pretty simplistic (though totally fair) assessments of why the stagnation occurred.

Instead, a very sizable portion of this book is dedicated to the literal discussion of "Where is my flying car?" From the size and efficiency of electric battery's, to engine horsepower and weight, t
Bartosz Pranczke
Apr 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
I enjoyed this book immensely. I guess it's a rather niche book for people interested in science, progress, technology and flying cars at the same time, but for those, it is great.

Turns out to answer where is my flying car we need to dive deep into the progress studies, nuclear, avionics, civil engineering, nanotechnology, history and so much more.

This book is a perfect example of why I love to read. Very smart author spends 10 years researching multiple domains and I can just read the summary
Niklas Heer
Apr 09, 2022 rated it really liked it
This book covers a lot of different topics, and the author goes way beyond the central question of the book, “where is my flying car?”.
At times it was therefore harder for me to get through the book. I'm afraid I also have to disagree with the author on some topics like nuclear energy. Sure it’s an exciting power source but what to do with the waste? He doesn’t really answer that.
Overall I can recommend this book to people interested in science and science fiction.
Jun 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable exploration of the history of aviation, that goes into why we don't all have flying cars and why the amount of energy each of us has access to has stagnated over the past 50 years. I like that you can read the frustration of the author through the text—why isn't the present like the future we were promised!

I'm not sure I'd want to live in a city like it's painted in the book though—the sound of thousands of flying machines would be ear-deafening.
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring, wide-ranging, opinionated. Strongly recommended (even though I don’t agree with everything).
Miles Gould
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
I read this on the strength of Jason Crawford's excellent review: https://rootsofprogress.org/where-is-... I think Crawford does a great job of summarising the book, but am still glad I read the whole thing - I highlighted literally hundreds of passages. In particular, the section on urban planning was a revelation: he points out that the entire job of cities is to increase the number of valuable possible journeys by bringing lots of people close to lots of desirable destinations, and that citie ...more
David Peng
I am torn on this one - on one hand, this book offers a very idiosyncratic and fascinating insight into why innovation has stalled in the last few decades. On the other hand, this book is absolutely laborious to plow through and it is evident that there is a mismatch between the author's knowledge and his ability to express himself eloquently. Like a dinner conversation with an economist that goes on for far too long - or that crypto bro at the party who won't shut up about his altcoins. A hallm ...more
Kyle Allen-Niesen
Apr 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book has stuck with me for a while. J.Storrs Hall answers the titular question, but the book is about much more than just flying cars – it’s about energy usage, what happened to the rate of progress, and our societal outlook on the future. Moore’s Law has been prescient about the development in the world of bits. Where’s the corresponding improvement in the world of atoms?

Over the first few chapters, we learn that we could build flying cars today with current technology, but power and desig
Paul Sand
May 25, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

[Imported automatically from my blog. Some formatting there may not have translated here.]

The disappointing answer to the book's title: still workin' on it.

But since I started reading the book a few days ago, I've kept my eye peeled for news. And it's pretty easy to find. A couple weeks ago, there was a Christopher Mims column in the WSJ: The Biggest Problem With Flying Cars Is on the Ground. (I.e., where are they going to land?)

But perhaps more sobering, from Reason's wonderful Katherine M

Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Where Is My Flying Car : A Memoir of Future Past (2018) by John Storrs Hall is a unique view of why we don’t have flying cars. Storrs Hall has a PhD in Computer Science and has worked extensively on nanotechnology and other fields. Where is My Flying Car asks the question about why we don’t have flying cars that were predicted by many futurists in the 1930s to 1950s. While investigating why we don’t have Flying Cars Storrs Hall looks at why technological progress has slowed since the 1970s.

For a
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A meandering book that splits the line between seriously trying to answer the eponymous question, where are the flying cars we were promised, and taking that as an example of how the future envisioned in science fiction up to about the 50s seemed to hit a wall and stop in its tracks.

On the flying car question, it turns out, we could technically have flying cars today within the affordability of many people and within a couple decades most people. It’s technically feasible. And it would be very
Jan 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2022
This is less of a review, and more personal notes. For more coherent reviews, see
- https://rootsofprogress.org/where-is-...
- http://www.bayesianinvestor.com/blog/...
- https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/...

No, really. Read the reviews linked above instead.

The book is hard to summarize, and it's organization could really use some work, but I really appreciated the ideas. The Stripe Press edition is more streamlined than the original. Some of the arguments against climate change activists should
Feb 01, 2022 rated it really liked it
This is an extremely deep dive into the history, technology, and possible futures for flying cars - but flying cars are only the vanguard for a broader overall argument on techno-optimism. I would summarize the book as:

- There is no fundamental reason why we can’t have flying cars, nanotechnology, nuclear batteries, floating cities, robots, and a whole host of futuristic technologies
- Life would be awesome if we had these things
- We don’t have them because technological progress is being strangl
Francesco Ducci
Jan 18, 2022 rated it liked it
"Where is my Flying Car?" Is an interesting exploration on why the future is not what it used to be. From flying cars to humanoid robots through space travel and nuclear fusion, the promises of science and technology in the mid 20th century failed us dramatically.

Blade Runner was set 2019; despite its bleakness, it still figured androids indistinguishable from humans are exploited to work on space colonies. Where's all of this now.

The engineering and scientific analysis is fairly interesting; u
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent "big idea" book, a work of hopeful futurism- where are our flying cars? why don't we have all the Jetsons-like technology we've been promised over the last 50 years? It's complicated. One of the most common complaints in reviews is that this book meanders too much, and that's a fair criticism, but it it doesn't detract from the book too much. The reason we don't have flying cars are numerous- it requires discussing aeronautics, manufacturing and nanotechnology, energy techno ...more
Carlosfelipe Pardo
This is a book by a techno-utopianist who tries to convince the reader of several things with many calculations and linking findings from science but mostly science fiction (HG Wells, Asimov, Clarke, and the like) and the Jetsons. He tries to demonstrate that flying cars are feasible today (ok) and that the main obstacle are luddites and regulation (personified in a character from a Wells novel, Eloi). He misses many points of technological progress and it’s weird that he never learned, for inst ...more
Peter Backx
Apr 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a delightful read. Mr Hall's style is spot on.

The book consists of three parts. It starts with an overview of what SF writers and futurologists in the 50s thought we would have by now (hence the flying car in the title). It continuous with the second part that describes today's status and why we don't have certain things that we were promised (such as that flying car on the cover) And finally it ends up with what's ahead for the future, should we choose to go the route that Hall wa
Mathew Kfouri
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
Was unable to get more than four or so sections in before having to stop, so take this with a grain of salt. The actual investigation of the technical aspect and history behind flying cars is extremely interesting- especially the tendency of power structures to reject change. It soon becomes clear that the author is in the process of grinding an axe with regulation and greens, and is profoundly intellectually incurious about any other or concurrent explanations for a slowing of progress. The han ...more
Jake Sylvestre
Nov 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pg
This book was absolutely mind blowing. The author manages to analyze political philosophy, the failures of the ivory tower, policy makers and the technological advances of the past half-century into a coherent argument for a "second atomic age" by combining nuclear and nano-science.

The book does go into some long and meandering tangents about aeronautic and half-lives of different fissionable elements that seem extraneous but are both essential to making the authors argument and fascinating in
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