I found myself re-reading George Orwell’s 1984. The avid reader’s curse is to find solace within dusty volumes pulled from precarious piles. Reading 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, and Handmaid’s Tale provide little comfort amidst the modern life’s turmoil. My usual future oriented book round up was making me depressed. The future is now, the rapid change in technology constantly reminds me. Maybe I need to look elsewhere for my future worlds fix in January.
While Orwell wrote books and essays covering everything from the banal to the satirical, he remains one of the best futurists we have ever seen. While he is best known for 1984 and Animal Farm, his minor essays, Notes on Nationalism and You and the Atomic Bomb, strike a chord with new modern audiences.
Orwell’s worlds are not ones in which I wish to live. I have no desire to see languages devolve into Newspeak or where “four legs are good, but two are better”. My assumption is most people in the Hub community feel the same. Why else would we be working towards a better future?
The blog team thought about it for a while and we put together a list of books offering positive and thought-provoking futures while attempting to solve today’s dilemmas. We threw in a comic book at the end. The weekend is coming and something fun to read is a great way to while away the hours on a cold and grey winter day.
Anything by Carlo Ratti
Carlo Ratti is one of the greatest futurists in our time. We know listing an author is a dodge, however, his three books reimagine the way we will approach everything from transportation infrastructure to sewers. Check out an interview he gave while at an MIT conference in Vienna.
The world’s leading economists weigh in on the debate, including Nobel Laureates. This book covers everything from the crisis/recovery cycle and persistent inequality. Several scenarios are gloomy; however, many are positive. The book synopsis states, “economists may be better equipped to predict the future than science fiction writers”.
Remember all the things in Star Trek we wanted? Tri-corders, visual calls, sliding doors, holo-decks. We are getting there and it is taking time. Renowned theoretical physicist Michio Kaku takes his readers through the current technologies on the market, what is ahead, and what this means for future technologies. Kaku considers real issues we confront now, who will have jobs and what nations will be wealthy? He argues for scientific principles to create safe regulations surrounding how far and fast we go.
Dr. James Canton has advised three presidents, worked for Apple, and founded FutureLab. He is a high-profile futurist and author. In this book he presents his “guide to navigating the twenty-first century”. He covers topics from medicine to the environment. It can sometimes be a bit gloomy, for example, the predicted world-wide power struggle due to China’s economic rise. Other aspects are markedly positive, take for instance, how new medical technologies will enhance our daily lives.
The editors of this collection call it a manifesto. The book proposes radical changes and dares to think in new directions, for example, “what would business look like without Wall Street”. The ten contributors propose “utopian and possible” solutions to the quagmires in which we currently find ourselves. Expansive and pointed, the book simultaneously tries to answer “what if” in concrete ways.
Fun Fiction for the Weekend: Tom Strong
We are only including this because it is cool. The creator of V for Vendetta and The Watchmen, Alan Moore, leaves the gritty future he creates within those pages to imagine something new and positive. While the story starts in the 1920s it imagines bold parallel universes and all the good science can do for humanity. And what good is a science super hero without a maniacal supervillain? Enter his arch nemesis Paul Saveen, whose science-oriented plots are as convoluted as you might think.