Dreamers of the world to come, and their (not always accurate) visions of tomorrow.


This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future

By John Brockman

John Brockman gets 150 of the world’s most provocative thinkers — from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek to bestselling author Ian McEwan and music revolutionary Brian Eno — to espouse on what “game-changing scientific ideas and developments” they’ll be around to witness. The result is a blueprint of what could soon be our new reality.

Your Flying Car Awaits: Robot Butlers, Lunar Vacations, and Other Dead-Wrong Predictions of the Twentieth Century

By Paul Milo

Sometimes tomorrow doesn’t work out the way even the brightest minds of today think it will — and yesterday’s picture of today provides a great example: where are the domed cities, vat-grown babies, and weekends in orbit? Paul Milo engagingly chronicles the misfires of 20th-century techno-utopians, and explains why their assumptions were so off the mark. He also studies innovations — like airplanes — that defied conventional wisdom and actually worked out.

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better

By Clive Thompson

Clive Thompson looks at the ways our society is evolving in tandem with digital advances, and comes up with some surprising findings. This wide-ranging and eye-opening work highlights chess-playing “digital centaurs,” researchers filming themselves 24/7, Chinese students protesting toxic waste, and video gamers working on a cure for HIV. (Read our interview with the author here).

The Futurist

By James P. Othmer

Othmer’s hilarious satire of corporate life and mass media follows a high-priced speaker around the world (Bible conferences, corporate-sponsored orgies on Fiji, etc.) as he tells people what they want to hear about their future. A personal crisis involving celebrities in a space station changes his life forever and forces him to reevaluate the course he has charted.

Looking Backward: 2000-1887

By Edward Bellamy

A sensation when it was published in 1888, Edward Bellamy’s fictional portrait of a 21st-century America puts his Bostonian protagonist Julian West to sleep and wakes him up, like Rip Van Winkle, in what would be our present day. “Looking backward” from the year 2000 to 1887, he describes an alternate universe in which all of the world’s problems — war, poverty, crime — have been solved. Bellamy’s panorama of harmony never came true, but his vision was both a bestselling novel and an inspiration to social reformers of his day.

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