Dreamers of the world to come, and their (not always accurate) visions of tomorrow.
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.
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.
By Michael Lewis
The most consistent thing about predictions is that most of them turn out to be quite wrong. Yet there are always a few outliers who manage to spot tomorrow’s reality while others are looking at a mirage. In his book The Big Short and in this globe-trotting followup, Michael Lewis anatomizes the global misreading of the blossoming financial crisis — and spends time with those few people whose clairvoyance has proven, tragically, to have been accurate.
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.
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.