cover image A New History of the Future in 100 Objects

A New History of the Future in 100 Objects

Adrian Hon. MIT, $21.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-262-53937-1

Writing in the voice of a historian from the year 2082, Hon catalogues 100 imagined objects and the pivotal roles they’ve played in the 21st century in this eclectic and thought-provoking work. In Hon’s mostly optimistic future, technology is used to communicate faster and with more nuance than ever before, to enhance humanity’s physical and mental capabilities beyond their natural limits, and as a tool of both repression and revolution. Hon, a game designer, is at his best when imagining fads, augmented realities, and artificial intelligences. He nails the nonfiction tone, reminiscing on the “abundant hydrocarbons” and “comparatively pristine environment” of the early 21st century, and the U.S.’s “wasted decades following 9/11.” However, some of the best entries break format, reading more like short stories than pop-science reportage. Readers looking for a narrative arc will be disappointed; there is little connective tissue between chapters. Instead, the ideas are front and center. Casual readers may struggle with the format, but futurists and science fiction die-hards will delight in this impressive feat of imagination. (Oct.)