We went to Mars (at least, one of our machines did), and we cloned a sheep named Dolly. We convicted O.J. (okay, so it was only in civil court) and smoked out Big Tobacco. We Watched Ellen DeGeneres open prime time's closet door and observed a half a million men gather to reaffirm Christian values. We saw Madeleine Albright become the first female Secretary of State and witnessed the medical miracle of Bobbi McCaughey's septuplets.
But the year's advances were overshadowed by a darker side. Thirty-nine members of a California cult committed an inexplicable mass suicide. A serial killer took the life of fashion designer Gianni Versace. All-American father figure Bill Cosby lost his only son in a brutal robbery. And, most incomprehensible of all, Princess Diana was killed, at age 36, in a speeding car in a Paris tunnel. We had watched her bloom, and stumble, and emerge the better for it. It seemed so unbelievable that she was gone, we were not remotely ready for our own grief. "We were all affected by Diana's death, whether we knew her or not. That was the surprising thing," says English rock star Sting. "I was amazed at how I felt about it. How this country felt about it. How the world felt about it. It was extraordinary."
IT WAS THE YEAR THAT THE IMPOSSIBLE came to pass. Science fiction became science, and reality proved painfully surreal.