Posts Tagged 'literature'

From NYT Magazine

Here’s an ad scanned from last weeks New York Times Magazine, I just couldn’t resist posting it. I mean, really? An ergonomic toothbrush-cleansing egg?

futuristic toothbrush holder

And while not strictly concerned with the visual culture of the futuristic, that same issue did fulfill a bit of Sci-Fi promissory. In Gary Shteyngart’s recent (and fantastic) Super Sad True Love Story,  a near-future New York is littered with government propaganda urging Latino residents to save and for the Chinese to spend – cut to the cover of said NYTM cover:

new york times magazine cover shop cjina shop

And here’s a clip form the book. It’s worth noting that while humorous, Shteyngart’s novel is truly terrifying due to its spot-on depiction of a “post-literate” society in which books are seen as grotesquely uncool and acronyms rule the world’s language.  Language, which is of course online. Playing off of the common fears of today’s world – economic collapse, subservience to technology, growing old – Super Sad True Love Story is such because of its humanism, all the more noteworthy in the face of the vapid world we seem to fear. This sense of cultural collapse, is a driving issue here at Manifest Future, and ironically one of the most original ideas to enter our collective vision of what the future may hold.

super sad true love story

Alternate Futures Do Exist!

Rucker with some fruit

Another repost from BoingBoing, and a refreshingly original take on Sci Fi. Author Rudy Rucker presents a brief list of Sci Fi subjects other than the singularity available to potential writers.

In a world of ever more technology, it’s easy to see why the popular imagination has such limited  subject matter. Spaceships and robots have always been vital to Science fiction, and as computers emerged in the twentieth century it was reflected in tales of AI and the like. The singularity now seems unavoidable – if unlikely to actually occur – as something that today’s authors must face due to the increasing scale and power of computers. But, if a technology surrounds us today, it is even more important that our thoughts of tomorrow include something other.

[Rudy Rucker via Boing Boing]

A Curated Look at Pulp Covers

pulp cover jetpack

Why are these images appealing? They are most obviously amusing because of their antiquity, something that depends not necessarily on the subject matter but the style: pulp covers of jungle beasts and vampires are also awesome. But like those genres, these images of the futuristic are worth considering for their uniformity and adherence to a particular world. The aesthetics and characters seen here in THRILLS INCORPORATED are the same ones we’ve seen in recent movies and television.

pulp cover robot

Is this where it all began? Not really, Jules Vern, H. G. Wells and Mary Shelly should be as good a starting point as any. Science Fiction has emerged as a unique critique and social dialogue, diverging itself from fantasy in an issue thoroughly dissected by post-marxist hero writer Fredrick Jameson in Archaelogies of the Future. As I’ve previously written, there is a fundamental desire among us to approach the world seen in science fiction, if not, then why do we continue to build and shape our world after the ones seen here:

pulp cover rocket with silver robots

And now here’s Jameson going to town on the matter:

“…we confront something like a binary alteration between the reality principle of SF and the pleasure principle of fantasy. Perhaps in that sense Utopia does constitute a working synthesis of these two incommensurable: the supreme creativity or shaping impulse of fantasy marshaling the most recalcitrant raw material of all, in the state and the social order. So it is that as Science Fiction approaches the condition of Utopia… a peculiar fairy-tale topology begins to rise towards the surface like a network of veins.”

Archaelogies of the Future page 74.

Utopia here is described as the critical awareness of science fiction applied to the real world, inspired by fiction. If the Utopian will portrays an ideal world, what is that world based on? More often than not its less to do with an actual sense of social justice as pertaining to the the real world and more to do with wishful fantasy.

All images gather from around the Net.

Book Recommendation


Coming as a strong recommendation for any fellow independent futurists, Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not A Gadget is a self-proclaimed manifesto decrying the current trends of web culture and how they are devaluing the definition of the person. While not strictly concerned with the kind of futuristic material dealt with here at Manifest Future, I mention it because Lanier agrees with my own argument that the vital trait of individuality is threatened by today’s technology. The book’s simplistic writing and easily digestible chapters tamper the outlandish claims made throughout the book (like the idea of paying for creative content and reorganizing the digital economy). Choice quotes follow:

“You can belive that your mind makes up the world, but a bullet will still kill you. A virtual bullet, however, doesn’t even exist unless there is a person to recognize it as a representation of a bullet. Guns are real in a way that computers are not.” (27)

“Humans are free. We can commit suicide for the benefit of a Singularity. We can engineer our genes to better support an imaginary hive mind. We can make culture and journalism into second-rate activities and spend centuries remixing the detritus of the 1960s and other eras from before individual creativity went out of fashion.” (44)

“Are we building the digital utopia for people or machines? If it’s for people, we have a problem.” (87)

“Some other examples are the iPhone, the Pixar movies, and all the other beloved successes of digital culture that involve innovation in the result as opposed to the ideology of creation. In each case, these are personal expressions. True, they often involve large groups of collaboratos, but there is always a central visions – a Will Wright, a Steve Jobs, or a Brad Bird conceiving the vision and directing a team of people earning salaries”. (132)

Preview on Google Books

Buy on Amazon

And be sure to check out Lanier’s rebellious and hilariously regressive website.


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