If sci-fi is anything to go by we are meant to have flying cars by now, but instead the most advanced form of travel is the lowly Segway. Transport and travel have certainly not lived up to the lofty expectations of science fiction, but in the spirit of optimism we've decided to compile a list of our favourite travel gadgets from sci-fi. A nerd can but dream of one day hopping onto a podracer to beat traffic or redo that embarrassing night out in the TARDIS.
5. Transporter from Star Trek
Like the TARDIS below, the Transporter from Star Trek was a cost cutting measure to cut out all the extra scenes of landing spacecraft by having Kirk and Spock materialise on terra firma instead. Contrary to popular belief the words 'Beam me up, Scotty' are never spoken in the original series, but that distinctive catchphrase continues to be associated with the franchise. The Transporter comes in at number 5 for us, because half the fun of travelling is the journey there. But fans of the series will be pleased to hear that teleportation may be a reality a lot sooner than the 23rd century.
4. Podracer from Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
The Star Wars prequels may be considered sacrilegious works, but at least one good thing came from them in the form of the sleek podracers of Episode 1. Strapping a pair of turbine engines to a barely-there frame and careening about Tatooine - the home planet of the Skywalker clan - is the very definition of fun. We still can't bring ourselves to watch the prequels but to see a podracer in full flight is worth watching the films again - despite the best efforts of the ridiculous Jar Jar Binks.
3. TARDIS from Doctor Who
The Time And Relative Distance In Space looks like a regular police telephone box to anyone else (except for Superman, who considers them to be public change rooms), but to those of us raised watching Doctor Who these nondescript boxes are time-travelling machines. The idea to use a police box as a time-machine was not so much inspired as forced by the budgetary concerns in the BBC; nonetheless, they have become an iconic sight. Perhaps one day soon we can step into a police box and redo every disappointing sporting event since 1966.
2. DeLorean from Back To The Future
Instead of a boring old police box the Americans have the DeLorean DMC-12 sports car, originally built in Belfast, as their preferred time-travelling device. According to films timeline the parts required to make a time-travelling DeLorean possible will be invented in 2015 - so we have three more years to wait (unless Marty and Doc are still messing with our timelines). In the meantime we can entertain ourselves with rumours of self-lacing Nikes and hoverboards.
1. A Towel from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
It may not have any blinking lights, but the ultimate travel gadget is already with us. Ford Prefect never spoke more truer words than when he recommended the towel as the ultimate travel accessory. Light, easy to pack, endlessly useful - especially for hand-to-hand combat, sailing a minicraft, inhaling vapours and avoiding the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal* - and, most importantly, it stops you from panicking. Try it. Next time everything is falling apart on your holiday: wrap a towel around your neck and don't panic.
* The Beast thinks that if you can't see it, it can't see you. Taken from The Hitchhiker's Guide by Vann Harl.more blog posts