Don’t panic! – Elon Musk and Douglas Adams

Will reading the classic tales of space adventures with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect reveal what Elon Musk, the richest person in the world, has planned next? I recently listened to Jill Lepore’s BBC podcast ‘The Evening Rocket’, a 5 part exploration into Musk and his science fiction (SF) influences, as well as the widerContinue reading “Don’t panic! – Elon Musk and Douglas Adams”

The Machine Stops – did E. M. Forster predict the future?

‘The Machine Stops’, a short story written by E. M. Forster in 1909, portrays a future world of subterranean humans bound to (and eventually worshipping) an omnipresent machine. It is one of the earliest examples of dystopian fiction and presents a bleak future where society collapses under the weight of its reliance on technology.  TheContinue reading “The Machine Stops – did E. M. Forster predict the future?”

Grandville, advertising and retrofuturism.

French illustrator and caricaturist, J. J. Grandville (1803 – 1847), became hugely influential on the surrealist movement for his outlandish and fantastical depictions and satirical images. Looking at examples such as ‘A promenade through the Sky’ (1847), it is not hard to see why. His illustrations depict dreamlike images, inanimate objects transformed into humans, humansContinue reading “Grandville, advertising and retrofuturism.”

Don’t Look Up

Firstly, for some housekeeping, I feel I owe an explanation to my anonymous and (for me) imaginary audience for the gap since the last blog post. It’s been over a month. This is mostly due to a uni deadline, and partly because of Christmas/New Year. One realisation I’m coming to as I am doing myContinue reading “Don’t Look Up”

Should we stop intellectualising pop culture? A view from early science fiction

A few weeks ago an article came up on my Google augmented feed of articles related to things I’ve searched and the headline caught my eye: “Stop intellectualising pop culture” by Janan Ganesh writing for the Financial Times. I was granted the good fortune of reading the whole article due to the publications current paywallContinue reading “Should we stop intellectualising pop culture? A view from early science fiction”

When your organisational influences are dystopia: Metaverse, Meta, and Snow Crash

There has been some noise this week after Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that Facebook are developing a “Metaverse” and are changing their name to “Meta”. And while there are concerns about the function the announcement as a “dead cat” intended to distract away from allegations made by ex-employees of unethical practice, it has also been notedContinue reading “When your organisational influences are dystopia: Metaverse, Meta, and Snow Crash”

Review: The Employees, a workplace novel of the 22nd century – Olga Ravn

Spoiler alert – this article includes spoilers of the novel, if you’re looking to read it unspoiled do not proceed. The 2021 International Booker Prize shortlisted novel has received much deserved attention for its sensory and tactile language which creates the world of the Six Thousand Ship, a workplace comprised of human and humanoid crew.Continue reading “Review: The Employees, a workplace novel of the 22nd century – Olga Ravn”

Company time, free-time, and enforced fun: Player Piano via Adorno

In Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel and cutting critique of corporate identity and politics in the age of mechanical production, Player Piano (1952), protagonist Paul is invited to lead the Blue Team at “the Meadows”, the annual corporate games for Ilium’s (his employers) elite staff. The Blue Team usually win. Paul, despite the foregone conclusion, isContinue reading “Company time, free-time, and enforced fun: Player Piano via Adorno”

What does Kafka’s Metamorphosis tell us about the modern work ethic?

To get this out of the way at the offset – is Kafka science fiction? No. But I am turning to Kafka anyway, because of the influence his dystopian style of fiction and allegorical writing had on science fiction writers. It might be cliche-ed to say, but every time I go back to Kafka somethingContinue reading “What does Kafka’s Metamorphosis tell us about the modern work ethic?”

Identity crisis in the age of remote work: Baudrillard, A Scanner Darkly

At work, a fully remote version of ourselves is seen not to quite cut it. Why? There’s a really pleasing article to read from 1995: Mark Nunes’s Jean Baudrillard in Cyberspace: Internet, Virtuality, and Post Modernity. It notes the jump in computers connected to the internet from 1 million to 3.2 in the first 6Continue reading “Identity crisis in the age of remote work: Baudrillard, A Scanner Darkly”