Book Review: A New History of the Future in 100 Objects by Adrian Hon

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Book Review: A New History of the Future in 100 Objects by Adrian Hon
The MIT Press. Publication Date 06 Oct 2020.
Genre: Science Fiction(I got an e-ARC from Netgalley)

Science is about imagination, technology, and future, and all these culminates to invention of objects. We have seen how technology changes. There was a time of radio and transistor, the LP record player, then the cassette player, then came the CDs. But now we have plethora of options – the radio of old has transformed to digital music, FM channels, and the streaming music services, and all these subsumed within the internet that has become the do-all, reach-all, find-all platform.

I remember the book “The Road Ahead” written by Bill Gates which provided a road-map to the future of information technology. When I read it way back in 1990s, it seemed unreal. One would be left with many questions – Is that possible? How? But today, those things have not only become real, but even surpassed the predictions in that book. That book was a work of vision. But visions are almost always outcome of imagination.

This book, “A New History of the Future in 100 Objects,” is a work of imagination, and includes in its sweep a wide spectrum of objects relating to wide variety of fields. These objects have been assigned a timeline that goes up to 2079. As the artifacts of past are necessary to understand our history and heritage, the objects of future, even if imaginary, is important to get in grips with the kind of future we may have to face. The blurb is fantastic, “In the year 2082, a curator looks back at the twenty-first century, offering a history of the era through a series of objects and artifacts….” In a way, it is an imaginative encyclopedia of the future.

The author spells out his inspiration to a tele-series produced by British Museum and BBC, and also to few SFF writers who are also my favorite. As the author says, “Without their stories and ideas, the future would be a darker place.”

Some of these objects were indeed interesting to read. The author maintains a website where the chapters and the objects are detailed. Initial chapters are free to read.

The imaginative objects dealt with is not just about technology, but also about the social and economic fallout of those objects. In this way, despite being imaginary, the objects feel as if real.

Overall, an interesting book.

Copyright © Anup Mukherjee

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