cover image Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller

Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller

Alec Nevala-Lee. Dey Street, $35 (672p) ISBN 978-0-06-294722-2

Novelist Nevala-Lee (Astounding) offers a cogent assessment of futurist Buckminster Fuller (1895–1983), “a man who had been revered by both the counterculture and the establishment” in this solid biography. Nevala-Lee traces Fuller’s rise from being an uninspiring student at Milton Academy to the visionary who revolutionized—with differing levels of success—the design of things as varied as bathrooms and sports stadiums. Out of a childhood trip to Chicago a “lasting interest in industry” was born, and despite below-average grades, Fuller was admitted to Harvard, where he had a rocky experience and never finished. The death of his daughter in 1922 marked a turning point in his life, Nevala-Lee writes, and led to his “encounter[ing] many of his lifelong obsessions for the first time.” The author does a great job exploring the mythology that surrounded Fuller, as well as his creations (such as the architectural geodesic dome) and his anticipating such modern developments as the internet. The many celebrities, artists, politicians, and innovators Fuller crossed paths with make for rich fodder, too (he was friends with Hollywood director John Huston, and Albert Einstein allegedly told him at a party, “Young man, you amaze me”). The result is a fascinating portrait of a larger-than-life figure. Agent: David P. Halpern, Robbins Office. (Aug.)