Envisioning the Next 50 Years
Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812969764, 334pp.
Publication Date: December 23, 2003
“Nobody knows better than Bruce Sterling how thin the membrane between science fiction and real life has become, a state he correctly depicts as both thrilling and terrifying in this frisky, literate, clear-eyed sketch of the next half-century. Like all of the most interesting futurists, Sterling isn’t just talking about machines and biochemistry: what he really cares about are the interstices of technology with culture and human history.” -Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century
Visionary author Bruce Sterling views the future like no other writer. In his first nonfiction book since his classic The Hacker Crackdown, Sterling describes the world our children might be living in over the next fifty years and what to expect next in culture, geopolitics, and business.
Time calls Bruce Sterling “one of America’s best-known science fiction writers and perhaps the sharpest observer of our media-choked culture working today in any genre.” Tomorrow Now is, as Sterling wryly describes it, “an ambitious, sprawling effort in thundering futurist punditry, in the pulsing vein of the futurists I’ve read and admired over the years: H. G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, and Alvin Toffler; Lewis Mumford, Reyner Banham, Peter Drucker, and Michael Dertouzos. This book asks the future two questions: What does it mean? and How does it feel? ”
Taking a cue from one of William Shakespeare’s greatest soliloquies, Sterling devotes one chapter to each of the seven stages of humanity: birth, school, love, war, politics, business, and old age. As our children progress through Sterling’s Shakespearean life cycle, they will encounter new products; new weapons; new crimes; new moral conundrums, such as cloning and genetic alteration; and new political movements, which will augur the way wars of the future will be fought.
Here are some of the author’s predictions:
• Human clone babies will grow into the bitterest and surliest adolescents ever.
• Microbes will be more important than the family farm.
• Consumer items will look more and more like cuddly, squeezable pets.
• Tomorrow’s kids will learn more from randomly clicking the Internet than they ever will from their textbooks.
• Enemy governments will be nice to you and will badly want your tourist money, but global outlaws will scheme to kill you, loudly and publicly, on their Jihad TVs.
• The future of politics is blandness punctuated with insanity.
The future of activism belongs to a sophisticated, urbane global network that can make money—the Disney World version of Al Qaeda.
Tomorrow Now will change the way you think about the future and our place in it.