Reading: Future Visions

Anna Savina
Feb 14, 2018 · 3 min read

In my personal newsletter (in Russian), I regularly choose the best longreads about tech, media, and design. Recently, I’ve started a new section where I publish lists of articles worth reading created by different interesting people from all over the world. Since my newsletter is in Russian, I decided to post these lists in English on Medium, too. The tenth selection is created by one of my favourite writers, Joanne McNeil. She is interested in the ways that technology is shaping art, politics, and society. She was a 2015 fellow at the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation and an artist-in-residence at Eyebeam in 2014. Currently, Joanne is an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. She is working on a book about internet users called Lurk for Farrar, Straus.

Joanne McNeil:

“It is tempting to talking about the future as either utopian or dystopian, good or bad, hopeless or hopeful. But my favorite writing on science fiction and the future considers thorny questions and uncertainty.”

Visit Joanne’s website to learn more about her work

“Four Futures” by Peter Frase

This is not a book about futures in the “futurism” sense, but an analysis of the scarcity and abundance, or inequality or equality in existing science fiction literature. As Frase explains, it is an “attempt to use the tools of social science in combination with speculative fiction to explore the space of possibilities in which our future political conflicts will play out” / Verso Books / 160 pages

“Race And The Construction Of Race” (Chapter in “Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet”) by Lisa Nakamura

It’s common for sci-fi writers to imagine future worlds without race and racism, but that is abdicating responsibility for where the future is really headed. In this chapter, Nakamura contrasts the “techno-orientalism” of the white characters in Blade Runner and Neuromancer, and multicultural characters in The Matrix and Snow Crash,. She reveals what is communicated in the absence of discussion of race in science fiction / Amazon / 194 pages

“A Golden Age for Dystopian Fiction” by Jill Lepore

Dystopian literature has become a sort of comfort food recently. In this essay, Lepore considers the history of dystopian literature, and how the genre in recent years has become a “fiction of submission,” rather than imagination / New Yorker / 14 minutes

“Black Secret Technology” by Julian Jonker

Beginning with the Gil Scott-Heron song, “Whitey On the Moon,” the essay considers “where black science fiction has hidden itself instead: on vinyl.” It encourages readers to think more expansively about what we consider “science fiction” and futurism / CTheory / 18 minutes

“Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang

This is a stunning novella, ambitious and compelling, which fills with a great deal of hope for the future of science fiction literature. And it’s free to read on Uncanny magazine’s website right now / Uncanny Magazine / 60 minutes.


Would you like to share your thoughts or suggest a subject for a reading list? Please feel free to contact me: anysavina [at] gmail [dot] com.

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