Through the wonders of the internet (a bunch of computers connected together. This actually exists in your time, but only the military and a few colleges use it), I have discovered a way to send you, me two decades ago, messages.
There is, unfortunately, a limitation on what I can tell you. I can't actually tell you anything to directly influence your life, such as who you will love or what mistakes you will make in choosing college majors. Even that is probably too much information and will be excised by the chrono-censors. So it goes.
I am aware that you are five going on six and that you won't be able to read an eighth of what I am saying. You grow up to be a verbose character with a larger pool of vocabulary than common sense, ergo why you are undertaking this little experiment at all. It is my hope that one of your parents will read this to you and explain what I am writing.
So, let's get the disappointments out of the way, all of those things you might imagine one in the twenty-first century would have:
There are no flying cars. Heck, there really are no flying anything. Airplanes are still airplanes and the Concord, the fastest commuter jet in the world, has been scrapped for years. There are hovercrafts, but very few people have them outside of Louisiana bogs. They aren't efficient or fast, basically just balloons with fans on the back. While there are jetpacks, you have only ever seen Michael Jackson use one and it seemed neither fast nor efficient. If they are commercially available, you do not know and really do not care.
No one lives in space, aside from a handful of astronauts at the international space station a few months at a time. It isn't a comfortable place to be - artificial gravity is, after all, artificial -- but the view is quite nice.
We are far, far from world peace.
No space aliens are visiting in a diplomatic capacity. What those sodomizing aerial buggers are is anyone's guess.
We can't teleport more than individual molecules or bits of light.
There isn't Smell-O-Vision.
TV is lame and only gets worse, though the resolution of crap keeps getting better.
Our clothes are not made of silver Mylar. Though, on second thought, there is something to be said for jeans and a t-shirt.
We don't take our food in pill form, though multi-vitamins are very popular.
Genetic engineering has yet to produce a monkey-bat-goat that will fit in your pocket.
The prequel trilogy of the Star Wars series sucked.
Life is nothing like Tron. Or the Jetsons.
There isn't convincing artificial intelligence. The best that has been commercially marketed is an evil furry gnome bird that could speak its own language and slowly learn yours. They were banned from the Pentagon because they can mimic.
Virtual reality has yet to be realized in any practical way, though video games are about a million times better than the trash you will play on the Colleco-Vision.
Now for the good stuff:
Computers are everywhere and in everything.
You personally carry more than a gig (that is much more than you first three computers will have combined) of storage with you everywhere in your various gadgets, including - no joke - a pocket computer, a camera that needs no film, and a digital voice recording watch that can store more songs than you have ever heard.
We seem to be getting closer and closer to getting rid of cancer. We're not there yet, but progress is being made. It is frequently inhibited by people who prefer their invisible friends to actual humans, but that is often the case with advances.
There is an increasing likelihood that there will be cyborgs in your lifetime. Your girlfriend has promised to leave you if you are altered. She has an anti-transhuman agenda. For further information, reread that bit about how much memory you carry on your person without being a cyborg.
Computer animation is getting more convincing every month, meaning that animated shows can be made far more quickly and smoothly, allowing them to be topical. I figure, since you are a kid, this would appeal to you. People actually make fairly decent animation just for fun.
Pretty much anything you could want to know or see is available to you twenty-four hours a day through the internet. I wish I could say that less of this is specifically geared toward pornography.
There is a lot more, of course. You'll be receiving new communiqués from me fairly regularly. I hope you will use this information well.
Xen is sending the text of these essays back in time to his prepubescent self using advanced technology and fairy dust. That you can manage to read them as well is only a glitch in the servers.
Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.