Transportation in Speculative Fiction


Living in Japan, I get to experience a wonderful and efficient train system. Coming from a city that had only one train line (though more are coming), I felt like Japan was a futuristic country. I’m a huge proponent of public transportation, especially trains. So I often think, what will it be like in the future? And what was it like in the past? Speculative fiction addresses a lot of this.

In fantasy, most transportation is on foot, by horse, coach, or ship. Sometimes more advanced forms of transportation are used, like trains or even airships.

But what about in science fiction? Spaceships are the obvious answer. A lot of novels show spacecraft, but not so much about on planets. What do they use? Most likely environmentally friendly. In the air, I can imagine aircraft that fly above the atmosphere to travel long distances quickly. Scramjets are an example, and this technology exists today. How about land? Are there personal vehicles? How about things like trains or maglev systems? One thing I don’t see much of is travel by sea. Do they use boats? I can imagine hobbyists still using sails.

So what do you think would be used for transportation in 26th century Earth? And what have you seen in science fiction novels?