One of the early criticisms of Immaculate Deception (from a friend and former newspaper colleague who had not yet read the book, incidentally) was that there would be no way that anytime in the near future the United States could agree to build any sort of high-speed rail system, let alone the extensive maglev network I describe in the novel.
Had he known they were present in the narrative, he probably would also have pooh-poohed the presence of the aircar, loosely based on the designs of the Moller Skycar, which is an actual thing.
Granted, when it seems difficult for some in politics and punditry (the real in which my skeptical friend now dwells) to wrap their brains around better, cooler trains. The fact that people in urban areas (particularly along the Northeast Corridor of the U.S., where I live) actually like to use trains and would like to see more of them seems antithetical to the the current widespread belief that investments in forward-thinking infrastructure are silly. Honestly, it’s so much easier to spend all that money on fighting spurious foreign conflicts and letting bridges rot, right? But that’s another blog posting…
Suffice it to say that whether they’ll every really happen in the U.S., high-tech public transportation systems like maglevs (beyond the one at Disney World, of course) are an integral part of science fiction literature and film. There are even a few musical references – my favorite being “IGY” by Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagan.
And it’s not just a current (pipe?) dream – it’s one that’s apparently been around a very long time. Here’s a great story from the website io9 talking about the monorail concept through history.