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SciFly NYC // 87 // Speculative Download Summer Edition | SciFi, Prediction, Futures, Punk & Imagination

Weekly Events 7/29 - 8/4

La Sortie de l'opéra en l'an 2000, ca. 1902. A futuristic view of air travel over Paris as people leave the Opera
via Wikimedia Commons

Hey SciFly Readers!

This week I'm going to take a break from my ruminations. Finally have had to get back to my reading, and I'm still taking notes, thinking about new topics/ideas, and synthesizing.

For now, I want to share some of the great articles, publications, and books I've been checking out. Many of them are looking at the intersection of speculative/science fiction, design, art, and technology as it relates to finding 'practical' uses for speculation. I like to call this the 'so what' part of Speculative Design, and I've been really interested in better answering that question lately, as you could probably tell from my last few posts.

Hope you find some inspiring reads, and let me know what you are checking out right now!

Speculative Download - Summer 2019 ☀️🍉💻

Can Sci-Fi Writers Prepare Us for an Uncertain Future?
By Rose Eveleth

This article, which I reviewed in detail 2 weeks ago, looks at the uptick in companies hiring science fiction writers to 'predict the future' through creative exercises that help their future planning.

PWC recommended that corporations should ask science fiction writers about the future
By Cory Doctorow

After checking out the article by Rose, I wanted to find more examples of this phenomenon. Cory expands on the topic, explaining that he doesn't think the science fiction can predict the future, but that it is a great way to influence the future. 

Fake News Is an Oracle
By Cory Doctorow

When trolling around on Cory's site, I also found this AMAZING recent piece that goes deeper into how science fiction can be used as either warnings, or as inspirations, as well as acting as a 'ouija board for societal ideomotor response', telling you a lot about a writer's fear and aspirations, and collectively, about our societal fears and aspirations for the future. He then goes on to talk about 'fake news' and how it's inherent plausibility can shed light on how humans perceive the world.

Can Science Fiction Predict the Future of Technology?
By Alexandra Samuel

This piece is a great review of several articles looking at the intersection of Science Fiction and the future, reviewing how they fit together and pulling out some great quotes from each. She also does a great review of how Science Fiction authors themselves though of this process, from H.G. Wells to Edward Belllamy.

Worldbuilding in Science Fiction, Foresight and Design
By Leah Zaidi

This is a recent and AMAZING read by fellow Speculative Futures member, Leah Zaidi, who also had a great related talk, Brave New Worlds at PRIMER19!!! Leah's article makes some excellent connections between Science Fiction and Strategic Design, looking at how design and foresight can benefit from the concept of 'world-building' that is key to great science fiction.

Something Is Broken in Our Science Fiction | Why Can't We Move Past Cyberpunk?
By Lee Konstantinou

I also started getting interested in the emerging tropes of 'grimdark' and 'hopepunk', so started down a rabbit hole on this front for a while as well. This article looks at the emergence of the Cyberpunk sub-genre of SciFi and it's long list of spin-offs, with the thesis that the amount of 'X-punk' that has emerged signals something is broken in science fiction. It goes on to explore how the culture of the 70's and 80's contributed to a template for cyber-punk novels, and how later derivatives use different small strategies for moving beyond this, lamenting that no one has broken out of this cycle and truly innovated in science fiction today.

Science Fiction Is Dying Again – The Hopepunk Edition
By Cora Buhlert

This article is similar to the previous, positing that SciFi 'already died in the 1980s' and similarly looks at how '-punk' 'new-' and '-wave' have come to proliferate the genre, only focusing on a new tech or angle versus doing anything new.  She also refers to and reviews Lee's article in depth, adding her own point of view and additional resources.

Starting at the End: A Journey in Tim
By Tony Fry

This essay comes out with a bold proclomation ' is now impossible to constitute a viable future for humanity without design' and goes on to explore what viable futures are, how is humanity understood today, and how is design understood.  He introduces an idea known as 'the Sustainment' which is radical version of sustainability that 'embraces both the continuity of life itself and within it the changing nature and plurality of human life', the work of becoming 'futural'. Quite a trip, and I would love especially to chat out some of the (somewhat long and wordy) thoughts in this one with someone! 

“Design Thinking”: Defending Silicon Valley at the Apex of Global Labor Hierarchies
By Lilly Irani

Finally, this article steps back and looks at how the field of 'design thinking' and design more broadly is shaped by histories of race, colonialism, and gender. It examines how what we think of as 'technological' and 'inventive' have also been a contest to re-articulate and defend racialized hierarchies. I think this is a great read to end with from the above, reminding us that we always need to zoom out again and question who is imagining the future, and how does the language and design of that imagining open up and close down alternative ways of looking at the world, especially through technology.

That's all for now! Hope you enjoyed my reading list, and again, always happy to do a salon, study group, or chat about many of these ideas. I am super interested to continue looking at the intersections of speculative fiction, design, and social 'innovation' seeing how and when they can support one another.

Also, just a reminder that all of the PRIMER19 talks and keynotes are now available on Vimeo. They are 100% amazing, and I've been having so much fun catching up with them after I caught about 5% through my fog of exhaustion and emergencies at the conference! You can check them out here!

Read on for great speculative events this week!

"The future is here, now let's distribute it." 

Doc Martens

SciFly is a design studio dedicated to leveraging speculative design and science fiction to imagine and prototype alternative futures enabled by today's emerging technology.


Monday | 7/29

Tuesday | 7/30

Wednesday | 7/31

Thursday | 8/1

Friday | 8/2

Saturday | 8/3

Sunday | 8/4

OnGoing [classes, exhibits, shows etc.]


What I'm Reading

Here is a quick snapshot of my favorite books, podcasts, and articles this week.

The Stone Sky
by N.K. Jemisin

DNA ancestry tests could be used to ASSASSINATE people in the future, expert warns
by Sofie Jackson

Black Mirror Isn't Surprising Anymore. We're Screwed
by Peter Rubin

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