Been catching up on my DVR lately, and I’ve been watching through “Cosmos: Possible Worlds”. I love Cosmos for its examination of often under-appreciated history and how it shapes our future; but episode 13 took a chance to sum up themes of the previous episodes while exploring an idea we’ve discarded in the U.S. - The World’s Fair.
The episode titled “Seven Wonders of the New World” (available on Disney+) reminds us of the past importance of a World’s Fair as it pushed industries and government and civilians to produce show stoppers of future visions. The 1939 New York World’s Fair showcased the first television set - presented in a clear cabinet to prove it was a video signal and not a film. The 1964 New York World’s Fair presented a computer that would give you an important history fact for any date you input (amazing for an era where the only option for research was still a library).
But the Cosmos episode takes us to the future - the hypothetical 2039 New York World’s Fair. The symbol of the Fair is an enormous monument - one of ten so far placed around the world. An abstract tree of life constructed from compressed carbon sucked from the air in a new process as we clean out the excess carbon dioxide polluting our atmosphere.
Also featured at the fair - the Pavilion of Founders featuring holographic technology tied into A.I. as you can choose any figure in scientific history to be your guide on a tour of the Fair. Also on the grounds is the Pavilion of the 4th Dimension - through use of VR and augmented reality allowing you to witness an immersive experience of important points in history like the moon landing.
Next to that, the Pavillion of Lost Worlds exploring mysteries of the past like the Indus Valley in the year 2500 B.C. - an ancient civilization that had somehow developed modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and dentistry.
Watching it made me regret that I’ll likely never see anything like those past World’s Fairs in the United States, but then I remembered that I have. As a kid in 1982, my parents took me to Disney World, and we explored the newly launched EPCOT. At the start, it was specifically designed to replicate a World’s Fair; and it showcased newly realized concepts like true robotics, hydroponics, alternative energies - all things that are really only hitting the mainstream 40 years later. In 1982, I was walking through the future, and it was something to see.
All of this led me to another Declassified idea - the Sliders land in a World’s Fair. In a world where the Roman Empire was never sacked by the Visigoths, they skipped the Dark Ages. A few hundred years of progress were not lost as a result, and this World’s Fair showcases some truly amazing things as a result - including a Pavillion of the 6th Dimension. Sliding is controlled and presented as a tourist opportunity allowing patrons to stroll through the what if’s and might have beens. It could be a way home.
But further exploring the idea of “home”, Gibbs runs into something unexpected. Gibbs was a veteran Slider long before Declassified started, and he bumps into members of his first group whom he was separated from years ago. If the people you’re with are home, then he just found it again - or has his definition changed?
I think it could be an interesting and dynamic foundation for an episode with plenty for the characters to get involved in. And it could be used to not only present alternate history but an alternate future too.