We love reading about the future that never was almost as much as the one that's coming. Why? Because you get to try and conceptualize gems like this: a "huge rolling cross-country pleasure ball" that's nuclear powered and features a hotel-like interior that remains upright thanks to some gyro-stabilization. Hey, why not!
This vision of a globular jolly trolley comes from an issue of the sci-fi mag Amazing Stories published in 1946, as its editors and artists tried to imagine what an atomic-powered future would bring. According to the magazine:
With atomic energy, it has been postulated that man will have many leisure hours that he never had before. He will have most of the day to pursue as he pleases, either for pleasure, or in pursuit of a hobby, or in art, or in just plain being lazy.
Lazy? Building a giant pleasure ball and an intercontinental grooveway for it to roll around in sounds like a pretty monumental construction project, but maybe they'd have, uh, atomic-powered replicators or something.
The article snippet continues, as posted by Matt Novak over at Paleofuture:
Now, envisioning this future leisure-rich man casting about for a way to pass the day pleasantly, he might see an advertisement in his television set which might go something like the title of this article and of Settles' cover — "Trade Your Trouble for a Bubble"- and decide to go sightseeing across the country in this giant rolling ball of transparent plastic, balanced by interior gyro stabilizers controlling a suspended core which ever remains erect as it travels around its giant "track-ring."
This ring is magnetic, and powered by the atom, revolves along the roadway. The same power that makes the ball move forward (or backward) acts for stopping the ball. There are no huge motors, no complicated apparatus, just the simplest of gadgets, and a complex and very interesting interior which is the last word in pleasure palaces. Games, terraces, ramps, restful lounging places, dance floors, swimming pools and just plain sightseeing would make this huge ball a pleasant place to while away a day.