"...Adrian Hon conjures a detailed and arresting vision of a late 21st century world where technology has helped us advance so far it's hard to say what it means any more to be human." - Start the Week, BBC Radio 4
"Although he exhibits plenty of skepticism, Hon is optimistic at heart. His imagined future is one of technological innovation and social betterment. With so much speculative fiction predicting doom and gloom over the next century, it’s refreshing to see such hopefulness. This is the Jetsons’ future, one that’s bright and beautiful and very, very shiny." - Overlooked Books of 2013, Grantland
What are the 100 objects that future historians will pick to define our 21st century? A javelin thrown by an 'enhanced' Paralympian, far further than any normal human? Virtual reality interrogation equipment used by police forces? The world's most expensive glass of water, mined from the moons of Mars? Or desire modification drugs that fuel a brand new religion?
A History of the Future in 100 Objects describes a hundred slices of the future of everything, spanning politics, technology, art, religion, and entertainment. Some of the objects are described by future historians; others through found materials, short stories, or dialogues. All come from a very real future.
Imagine the Future
If you were transported to 2063, you'd see such incredible objects and technology and cultural changes that you could scarcely imagine today — and you'd also see so much that would be familiar to you, from the clothes people wear to the stories they tell each other.
But that's not what happens in real life. Instead, we experience the passage of time second by second, and the shock of the new quickly fades into familiarity and indifference. It's only by taking a snapshot in time and comparing it with the past that we can see quite how the world changes.
That's what this book does: it takes a hundred snapshots across a century, each one examining a single object from a single time in detail. Who made it, where it came from, what it means, and how it transforms the world.
These are stories of a possible future, stories of life and death and love and war and science and faith and exploration and despair and hope. It's about what it means to be human in a century where humanity has never mattered more. And, like all science fiction, it's about the hopes and fears we have today.
About the Author
Adrian Hon is CEO at Six to Start, an award-winning games company responsible for the co-creation of "Zombies, Run!", a running game and audio adventure used by over 600,000 people worldwide. Adrian was previously a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, Director of Play at Mind Candy where he was lead designer of Perplex City (an international alternate reality game treasure hunt), and technology writer for The Telegraph.
He's had work displayed at MOMA and the Design Museum; conducted research in a Mars simulation in the Utah desert; worked with Disney Imagineering, Death Cab for Cutie, the British Museum, the BBC, and The Economist; and spoken at the TED conference in Monterey, California.
When we think of the future, we are really thinking about our past and present. It’s therefore fitting that A History of the Future in 100 Objects was prompted by the excellent work of the British Museum and the BBC on A History of the World in 100 Objects. There are few explorations of history that surpass it in imagination and vividness, and as soon as I finished listening to the hundredth episode, I immediately began thinking of what the next hundred objects might be.
More broadly, I owe a debt of gratitude to the writers who have inspired me; Vernor Vinge, Iain Banks, Neal Stephenson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Lewis Hyde, Ted Chiang, George Orwell, Stanislaw Lem, and many more. Without their stories and ideas, the future would be a darker place.
Thanks to my editors, Richard Dennis and Andrea Phillips. Thanks to George Thomas for website design.
Thanks to my family, especially to my parents, Metis and Bernard Hon, and my partner, Margaret Maitland, for their support and encouragement.
Thanks to everyone at Six to Start for their help. And thanks to my friends, Naomi Alderman, Andrea Phillips, and Alexandre Mathy, for their advice and humour.
A History of the Future in 100 Objects was originally announced in February 2011 as part of a Kickstarter crowdfunding project. As I was keen to experiment with self-publishing, my goal was to raise a small amount of money to help with production costs. Back then, crowdfunding was relatively unknown and seemed a much riskier proposition than it is today. Accordingly, I am indebted to the backers of this book, who include:
Alby, Alex Moseley, Allen Hunter, Andre, Andrea Phillips, Andres Varela, Andrew Bretscher, Ben Joossen, Bernard Hon, Brent, Brian Enigma, Brtsergio, Candy and Bubble, Chris Coldewey, Chris Spurgeon, Christopher Moisan, Dale Campo, Dale Marcus, Dan Calladine, Daniel Rivera, Danny Rosenbaum, Daryl, Dave Lawrence, David Fono, David McAndrew, David Smith, David Tyndall, David Varela, Derek Dukes, Doug, Drew Stephenson, Duncan Wilson, Eduard Richter, Erika Dicker, Frances, Francois Jordaan, Frank Chimero, Frankie Roberto, Gabe Smedresman, Gary Greco, Gene Becker, Gord Harris, Grant Wythoff, Gretchen Wright, Guy Dickinson, Helen Michaud, Iskander Smit, J. J., James Campbell, James La Force, Jeremy Quinn, John Maitland, John Robinson, Jonathan Packer, Justin Pickard, Kars Alfrink, Kate Raynes-Goldie, Katy Beale, Kim Pallister, KurtL, Lalith Vipulananthan, Laura Hall, Lavonardo, Leigh Caldwell, Lscjw1, Margaret Maitland, Matt, Matt Haughey, Max Gadney, Metis Hon, Michael Bhaskar, Michael Costigan, Michelle Senderhauf, Miriam, Naomi Alderman, Nathan Bradley, Nick Richards, Nickycast, Patrick Kelley, Paul Sturrock, Pedro Rosario Silva, Phil Goodlad, Philip Trippenbach, Richard Cotton, Riff Conner, Rob Bevan, Robin Sloan, Sally Jacobs, Sean Bamforth, Seb Chan, Shaun, Shelley, Stephane Adamiak, Stephen Fulljames, Steve Graham, Steve Portigal, Stuart Candy, Susan Chun, Susan Schiffler, Timoni, Tom Bridge, Tom Clancy, Vaughn Potter, Wendy Schultz, zzkt