By various authors, ed. Matt d’Ancona

Help make FUTURES - the collectible essay series that will change how we think

Friday, 27 December 2019

Almost 40% funded… & some fabulous limited pledge offers

I hope you're enjoying a peaceful/lively/relaxing (delete as applicable) festive break.

As I write, FUTURES is heading for the 40% mark. Huge thanks for your pledges and for sharing the link with your friends, family and broader network. We’re getting there, but still need your help!

Every pledge, every share on social media gets us closer to our target. So please keep posting, tweeting and telling everyone you know who might be interested in the project.

Limited edition offers
We’ve got some fabulous personalised pledge offers available. Bidisha’s Serious Art Edition includes signed copies of all five books, and a stunning A5 photographic print for £100 – ideal for all collectors of postcard-sized art. And a real bargain: Bidisha’s prints sell for the same price as this entire bundle! These are selling fast, so pledge now!

Or – how about Grace Campbell’s Ultimate Feminist Edition? £45 for all five books, with the Future of Men signed by the complete Pink Protest posse? Perfect for young feminists of all ages.

More news next week. In the meantime, please keep sharing and pledging. If a new offer catches your eye, you can always upgrade your pledge – simply go to your account, click "Manage project" and hit the "Upgrade or donate" button. No need to miss out!

Thank you again!

Q&A with Professor Max Saunders
If you’ve watched our video, you’ll know that the idea for FUTURES originated with Professor Max Saunders, Interdisciplinary Professor of Modern Literature and Culture at the University of Birmingham. He dedicated a decade to working on To-Day and To-Morrow – a series of more than 100 short books from the 1920s and early 30s – in which writers, scientists, philosophers and subject experts took a topic, described its current state and then imagined its future. 

This week Max answers my questions.

What made you want to reboot the To-Day & To-Morrow series?
There was something really special about the original series. At its best, the writing is unlike anything else. The authors were visionaries who seemed to spark off each other: it must have felt like they were rewriting the rules for imagining the future. They weren’t saying there’ll be a bit more of what we’ve got now, but trying to imagine radically different paradigms. These books were thought experiments in possibility – and we’re only just starting to catch up.

The more time I spent reading them, the more I was struck by the extent to which we’re lacking this type of thinking today. Horizon scanning, trend forecasting and scenario planning – the primary methods used currently to predict the future – are largely concerned with maintaining the status quo and avoiding risk. They also rely on teamwork, and future thinking by committee has a tendency to come out in bureaucratese: bland; impersonal and insipid.

We need more of the kind of imaginative zing that characterises the best To-Day & To-Morrow books

What are you most looking forward to about FUTURES?
Being surprised. If it really works, it’ll give us visions of things we haven’t already read in science fiction or seen on Star Trek. 

Not counting the brilliant authors contributing to this first set, who – dead or alive – would be your dream contributor to FUTURES? Why them?
One way I hope the series will surprise us is when well-known writers tell us things we’d never have imagined – or predicted! – them saying. When they have a vision we’d never have guessed. So of course I’ve no idea yet who they are. Emily Maitlis on the future of art, perhaps; Stephen Mangan on the future of technology; Richard Ayoade on the future of almost anything.

The original series had bright young writers and scientists producing their first book – people who went on to become leading intellectuals. That’s a hard act to follow, but we’ll do our best to commission rising stars as well people known for their creativity and flair. Think James Joyce on the future of dreams; Sylvia Plath on the future of diaries; Stephen Hawking on the future of chatbots; Virginia Woolf on the internet; Shakespeare on the future of mixed reality… 

Why should people pledge for the FUTURES essays?
You’ll be contributing to something that’s different from most publishing. There’s been nothing like it for a hundred years. If you pledge now you’ll be making something happen that maybe people will be looking back on in 2120 and saying “Wow! How did they think of that back then? And who were those forward-looking people listed in the book who helped them do it?”

If, as we hope, the series produces new ideas, and changes the conversation about what we want our lives, and future lives, to be like; and if people are inspired by these ideas; then you’ll have helped to change the world.

What do you hope the series will achieve?
I hope it will provide a platform for new writers to conjure up visions that blow us away.

The original To-Day & To-Morrow series had around 100 authors and more than 100 volumes. It was a publishing sensation. With your help, FUTURES will make a similar splash.

Read more about To-Day and To-Morrow


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