In July 2022 we saw the two part play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ in London. This play has been running in the beautiful ancient Palace Theatre since June 2016. The story begins nineteen years after the 2007 incidents in the novel ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is an amazing seven part fantasy fiction. It has not been classified as science-fiction as yet. In this post I will not review the new play, but will highlight the many futuristic Sci-fi ideas embedded in the seven series novels.
I started to read Harry Potter along with our daughter since she was in school in 1997 when the series began to appear. The series fascinated her and also had us enthralled. We read and discussed each volume with equal interest as the child. I was fascinated with the scientific possibilities that Rowling weaved into the stories.
For this post I had to appeal to my daughter for these Sci-fi ideas embedded in the stories, as my memory of the novels was weak. My reading of the novels was also not as deep as hers! My thanks to the loving efforts of my daughter in penning down some of these thoughts for my post.
Pen-sieve: Dumbledore the wondrous Head master of Hogwarts: School of Magic used this device to copy his memories and saved them in the ‘pen-sieve’. I was fascinated with the thought when I first read it. There’s no present technology like this, but with video recordings today memories can be preserve and shared with others much later in time. While writing for this blog I have always thought that it would be great if some such device could pick up the thoughts as they come to my mind and directly type it into a post! A modern day Pen-sieve! Today an audio recording of your thoughts can be saved as a print format on a mobile. This saves the trouble of typing. But the mobile cannot capture your thoughts so far! Thank God for that really, or it could create havoc in your relationships and more!
Photos with moving images: When I first read the novel I was fascinated by the idea of the persons moving inside the photo frames. Sometimes the person would walk away from the photo frame and return later. The modern day videos on mobiles grew popular after smartphones became cheaper and more accessible.
Marauder’s Map: The Marauder’s Map was created by James Potter (Harry’s father) and his friends. It was a magical map that showed every classroom, passage and even the grounds of Hogwarts School. The location of every person in the school was visible on the map. This was like an early version of the GPS!
Family Clock: Ron Weasley’s mom, Molly, had a Family clock in her kitchen with hands that showed the location of all members of her family at all times, whether at work, home or school. This is another version of the GPS used to sharing your location with your friends. The added magic of Molly Weasley’s clock was that it also had an indicator for “mortal danger”, so she was alerted to the event in advance!
Moving Staircase: The Hogwarts School had stairways that moved around and took you to the place you needed to go. One can think of this as an advanced version of elevators, Currently elevators only move up and down. What if they could also move from place to place? The concept of the moving staircase was used very effectively as a prop in the staging of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!
Temperature change knuts: Unfortunately the wizarding world of Harry Potter had not heard of digital currency! The currency used in the Diagon Alley for commerce were gold, silver, and bronze coins, known as Galleon, Sickle and Knut, respectively. Hermione, the Muggle witch, enchanted some fake coins (knuts) to glow with a date and time which indicated to each member of the ‘Dumbledore Army’ where and when their next meeting would be. We are familiar with notifications and reminders on our mobile phone for meetings. Glowing coins with temperature changes was a similar idea.
Floo Powder and the Fireplace: The wizards could throw Floo powder into the fireplace, stick the face into it and appear in someone else’s fireplace for a chat. Wow, an early version of a video chat or Facetime on an iPhone!.
Transportation: The floo powder had other uses as well. Jumping into a fireplace with Floo powder could transport you to your intended destination. There were other forms of transportation. In one of the early novels of the Harry Potter series a form of transportation that enthralled me was using an enchanted object, called a portkey, that would transport the person at a given time to a given place. The Portkey was a magical object enchanted to instantly bring anyone touching it to a specific location. It could be an everyday object that did not raise the suspicion of the ‘muggles’ (non-magical people). The third method was apparition, where you simply disappeared and reappeared elsewhere. This was an advanced skill acquired by wizards where concentrated focus on the place the user wanted to be in would help transport him/her to the destination without traversing the space in between! May be some day we will have these forms of transportation that will save us a lot time and effort in our congested urban cities. Driverless cars and hoverboards are definitely being tested, but neither allows us to escape traversing the space in between!
Bio-Id: Just like Face ID or Touch ID that we use today to unlock our phones, Rowling had devised such bio ids for certain devices that worked only when a specific person used them. For example, there were shelves upon shelves of crystal balls that contained Prophecies of individual characters in the novels. Only the person(s) mentioned in the prophecy could retrieve them from the shelves.
The Dementors: The climax of Part I of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the appearance of the Dementors on Stage! It was a moment when one got gooseflesh! The Dementors slid across the stage and into the audience way above the ground. It was scary to say the least. I still have not figured out how it was done. Was it a hologram? A 3-D projection or were they physical dummies? As they disappeared as fast as they appeared, I feel it was the former. The Dementors remain enshrined in mystery!
The Dementor was a brilliant idea in the Harry Potter series. The Dementors sucked out all the happiness in the room or area. It is a metaphor for depression, a disease that a large section of the population, including the youth suffer from today.
Dear Friends: Hope you enjoyed these futuristic ideas from Harry Potter. Please comment and let me know of more such ideas for the future that Rowling may have embedded in the novels and that we may have missed.