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Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next 50 Years Paperback – December 23, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (December 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812969766
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812969764
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,480,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

?Nobody knows better than Bruce Sterling how thin the membrane between science fiction and real life has become, a state he correctly depicts as both thrilling and terrifying in this frisky, literate, clear-eyed sketch of the next half-century. Like all of the most interesting futurists, Sterling isn?t just talking about machines and biochemistry: what he really cares about are the interstices of technology with culture and human history.? -Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century

Visionary author Bruce Sterling views the future like no other writer. In his first nonfiction book since his classic The Hacker Crackdown, Sterling describes the world our children might be living in over the next fifty years and what to expect next in culture, geopolitics, and business.

Time calls Bruce Sterling ?one of America?s best-known science fiction writers and perhaps the sharpest observer of our media-choked culture working today in any genre.? Tomorrow Now is, as Sterling wryly describes it, ?an ambitious, sprawling effort in thundering futurist punditry, in the pulsing vein of the futurists I?ve read and admired over the years: H. G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, and Alvin Toffler; Lewis Mumford, Reyner Banham, Peter Drucker, and Michael Dertouzos. This book asks the future two questions: What does it mean? and How does it feel? ?

Taking a cue from one of William Shakespeare?s greatest soliloquies, Sterling devotes one chapter to each of the seven stages of humanity: birth, school, love, war, politics, business, and old age. As our children progress through Sterling?s Shakespearean life cycle, they will encounter new products; new weapons; new crimes; new moral conundrums, such as cloning and genetic alteration; and new political movements, which will augur the way wars of the future will be fought.

Here are some of the author?s predictions:

? Human clone babies will grow into the bitterest and surliest adolescents ever.
? Microbes will be more important than the family farm.
? Consumer items will look more and more like cuddly, squeezable pets.
? Tomorrow?s kids will learn more from randomly clicking the Internet than they ever will from their textbooks.
? Enemy governments will be nice to you and will badly want your tourist money, but global outlaws will scheme to kill you, loudly and publicly, on their Jihad TVs.
? The future of politics is blandness punctuated with insanity.
The future of activism belongs to a sophisticated, urbane global network that can make money?the Disney World version of Al Qaeda.

Tomorrow Now will change the way you think about the future and our place in it.


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

BRUCE STERLING is the author of nine novels, three of which were selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year. The Difference Engine, co-written with William Gibson, was a national bestseller. He has also published three short-story collections and one nonfiction book, The Hacker Crackdown. He edited the anthology Mirrorshades and has written for many magazines, including Newsweek, Fortune, Harper’s, Details, Whole Earth Review, and Wired, where he has been a contributing writer since its conception. In 1999, he won the Hugo Award in the short-story category. He lives in Austin, Texas.


From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Bruce Sterling, author, journalist, editor, and critic,
was born in 1954. Best known for his ten science fiction
novels, he also writes short stories, book reviews,
design criticism, opinion columns, and introductions
for books ranging from Ernst Juenger to Jules Verne.
His nonfiction works include THE HACKER CRACKDOWN:
LAW AND DISORDER ON THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER (1992),
TOMORROW NOW: ENVISIONING THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS (2003),
and SHAPING THINGS (2005).

He is a contributing editor of WIRED magazine
and writes a weblog. During 2005,
he was the "Visionary in Residence" at Art Center
College of Design in Pasadena. In 2008 he
was the Guest Curator for the Share Festival
of Digital Art and Culture in Torino, Italy,
and the Visionary in Residence at the Sandberg
Instituut in Amsterdam. In 2011 he returned to
Art Center as "Visionary in Residence" to run
a special project on Augmented Reality.

He has appeared in ABC's Nightline, BBC's The Late Show,
CBC's Morningside, on MTV and TechTV, and in Time,
Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times,
Fortune, Nature, I.D., Metropolis, Technology Review,
Der Spiegel, La Stampa, La Repubblica, and many other venues.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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See all 5 customer reviews
Bruce Sterling writes well, and thinks well.
Doktor Polidori
I am not sure I have ever read something as engaging, fascinating, informative and so easy to read at the same time.
Colin P. Lindsey
Sterling's future is coming at us fast, it is Tomorrow Now!
Sylvia Wadlington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Colin P. Lindsey VINE VOICE on June 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Tomorrow Now is essentially a long and brilliant essay by Bruce Sterling, a noted science fiction writer and futurist covering some of his ideas of what the future may hold. Sterling very cleverly breaks the book into seven parts based upon a soliloquoy from Shakespeare covering the ages of man from birth to death, and wittily prophesies what life may shape itself into in our near future.

Two things struck me about this book. The first is that it is not nearly as focused on the next fifty years as the title purports. There is a fair deal of what the future may hold, but there is also a great deal of the present thrown in (especially in the soldier section), and some futurism that is more than 50 years out. Surprisingly this didn't bother me at all because his analysis of the present, especially an exposition on three different terrorists warlords, was fascinating, absolutely fascinating. This book ranges far and wide, and colors outside the lines of the 50 years stated, but I was glad it did as I read.

The second thing that struck me was that this is one of the most amazingly well-written books I've ever read. I am not sure I have ever read something as engaging, fascinating, informative and so easy to read at the same time. I have always enjoyed Sterling's fiction work but, frankly, the quality of this non-fiction book trumps his fictional stories. His writing style is very chatty, more or less as if you are sitting across the table from him, and at first this threw me. It's not something you expect in a science book. Yet once I adjusted I realized that this may be one of the clearest pieces of writing I have ever had the pleasure to read. When I say "pleasure to read" I actually mean it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on July 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
The coming decades pose great promise and imminent peril, oracular sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling argues in this compelling critique of the state of the modern world. On the plus side, scientists someday might eliminate disease and allow people to live forever. In the debit column, people are burning so much fuel that humanity is setting itself up for extinction. Sterling combines the analytical acumen of a true visionary with the prose of a master craftsman in this fascinating work seasoned with first person anecdotes. As a futurist, Sterling is too savvy to make concrete predictions that soon might be proven wrong (though some of his U.S. political analysis is already losing topicality), so readers might find his approach a bit obtuse at times. But even Sterling's glancing blows connect. We recommend his intriguing analysis and conjectures to techies and to anyone else who seeks a literate look at what the future might hold.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doktor Polidori on January 10, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Bruce Sterling writes well, and thinks well. Foremost, I recommend reading this book, if only for its explanation of How Publishing Works.

My complaints:
0.) He is overly pessimistic:
He holds that certain parts of the world will constitute what he refers to as The New World Disorder---failed states, mafiacracies, terrorist labour exchanges. In a week when Gaza is on fire, this is hard to dispute...but he offers no insight, be it ever so tentative, on how such places may transition out of that state, leaving this reader feeling like he's encountered y.a. American Calvinist separation of the unalterably Elect from the unflinchingly Preterite. Given his capacity for optimism (viz sub), this seems odd.

1.) He is overly optimistic: Especially in his consideration of biotech possibilities, his guesses are too full of bad possibilities which he dismissed on the basis of their being too unpleasant for the people involved, or less profitable than better alternatives. Once, I was arguing with a Southerner over the causes of the Late Civil Unpleasantness War Between the States of Northern Aggression; he brought out that old chestnut of slavery's being doomed because it made no economic sense, to which I retorted, "But it was so much fun, at least for the people with the money and power." He also fails to address certain possible contingencies---e.g., adult genetic reshaping's being impossible or too dangerous to be generally practicable---and the fact that in an entropic universe a biologic Gresham's Law might be in play: all it may take is one bad actor (say, someone who lets her experimental bacterial machine be _not_ barren) for everything to go very bad indeed.

2.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Gobell on February 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed the first 2 or 3 chapters of this book, but soon after that it became quite clear that Mr. Sterling needs an editor, badly.

The ideas are rich, the structure intriguing, but the prose is nearly stream-of-consciousness, which makes it quite difficult to follow. Each sentence is perfectly understandable, but they do not build on each other in a meaningful or revelatory way.
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Format: Paperback
Tomorrow Now by Bruce Sterling examines the future with the focus on man and nature instead of the usual, man and numbers.
Statistics and credit ratings are good indicators of what the future will bring, but Sterling goes way beyond other futurists by bringing man as an organic creature, living in an organic world into the mix. Stuff is not as important as being attractive and having a long healthy life and because this is at the very base of most human desires, this is where Sterling predicts the future will take us. In the past we created huge machines to do the things that tiny microbes do all the time. Sterling shows us a very plausible future where the big things will be done with tiny little biologicals. He predicts DNA, bacteria and microbes will become the machines of tomorrow. Today's news featured a story of a group of scientists that had isolated a bacteria that fed on trash and excreted crude oil. Think of the immense machines, the oil tankers and political problems and the huge land fills this discovery will eventually eliminate. Sterling's future is coming at us fast, it is Tomorrow Now!
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