Taking care of the basics…

The first review of the Rough Guide to the Future is a short in New Scientist. The heading “Futurology that’s tied to the present” gives a good sense of the reviewer’s take. He goes on:

As the author drily points out, an accident of branding has made for an apt title: no work about the future can hope to be anything more than a rough guide. Explaining why this should be so makes for a sprightly opening account of futurology’s past and present (but not, as it happens, its future).

The momentum wanes, however, through a succession of chapters on such over-familiar issues as population, climate, energy and food security. Turney has clearly done his homework and deftly uses quotes, facts and asides to enliven the text, but the result nonetheless smacks more of present-day preoccupations than horizon-scanning prescience.

Not much here will be new to dedicated students of the future. A more creative structure might have shown the material off to better advantage, and greater licence to speculate would have helped too. For a rough guide, this is a little too polished.

This is all fair enough, I reckon. I do (not surprisingly) think it misses the point slightly, though. The whole point of a Rough Guide – the brand and the general idea beyond that – is to take care of the basics as smoothly as possible, isn’t it? If you know them all already, and are, indeed, a dedicated student of the future, you probably don’t need to read it, certainly not all the way through. It might be rather more use to other people though. I hope so!


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2 Comments on “Taking care of the basics…”

  1. Tracy Hopkins Says:

    According to Mike Treder on The Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies’ website, “Jon Turney has produced an excellent, compelling, accessible overview of futurology that rewards both skimming and deeper reading.”


  2. jonturney Says:

    WordPress just asked me to approve that comment. I do!

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