Everybody likes to call their own shots, that prediction you just know is going to happen. And while some predictions are like shooting fish in a barrel, others reach for the implausible. Predictions take a little time to get there, but when you realize that someone called the thing no one saw coming, all you can do is slow clap.
1. John Brunner
Have you ever heard the one where Robert Kennedy predicted that Barack Obama would be president? Well, he didn’t. He made an offhand comment that one day a black man would be president, but it’s not like he said a black guy with his last name starting with a vowel and ending in a different vowel would be president in 2010. No, John Brunner did that.
Stand on Zanzibar was a 1969 science fiction novel set in early 2010s America. The president at that time in his book is a man named Obami, who happens to be black. Haha! You got it wrong by one letter, Brunner!
If that were the only thing Brunner learned from his obvious time travel … er, predicted, it would be amazing, but he also named China as the main rival of the US (not the Soviet Union), the European Union, terror threats in the US, satellite news, the DVR, and the decriminalization of marijuana. Also, he predicted avatars (the things on the Internet, not that movie — anyone could have predicted the movie).
2. Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith is the kind of guy who takes predictions personally. When an ex-girlfriend’s mom told him he’d never amount to anything, he saved the note as a little reminder that he could have had the worst mother-in-law ever.
Later, during Smith’s film Chasing Amy, Smith and Ben Affleck were joking around when Ben took a shot at Kevin’s writing and remarked that he could play a doctor. Smith retorted, “But you couldn’t be Batman.” At the time, there wasn’t another person on this entire planet who’d even consider whether the guy in the View Askew universe would ever be A-list enough to carry Batman. Affleck showed them, right? Right?
3. Tom Hanks
Part of Tom Hanks’s charm is that “aw shucks” humbleness to him. He’s the kind of guy who genuinely gets excited to be on a kiss cam at a sporting event and plays along. You don’t associate Tom Hanks with anything brash or cocky, but don’t forget: Tom Hanks was once a teenager.
After watching the movie The Sting, an 18-year-old Hanks wrote a letter to Oscar-winning director George Roy Hill, asking him to “discover” him as an actor. The letter continued, “My looks are not stunning. I am not built like a Greek God, and I can’t even grow a mustache, but I figure if people will pay to see certain films … They will pay to see me.” Yep, they certainly will.
Hanks’s prognostication went a bit further: “Mr. Hill, I do not want to be some bigtime, Hollywood superstar with girls crawling all over me, just a hometown American boy who has hit the big-time, owns a Porsche, and calls Robert Redford ‘Bob.'” It’s everything that makes Hanks the beloved actor he is today, written by a confident 18-year-old. Only thing he got wrong is he doesn’t own a Porsche. Guess his tastes changed as he matured.