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Contemporary Futurist Thought: Science Fiction, Future Studies, and Theories and Visions of the Future in the Last Century Paperback – 21 Jun 2006

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About the Author

Tom Lombardo, Ph.D. is the Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy, and Integrated Studies at Rio Salado College in Tempe, Arizona. He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and the University of Minnesota and a graduate fellow of Cornell University. He has served as the Chief Psychologist and Educational Director at John Madden Mental Health Center, the Dean of Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, and the Chair of the Psychology Instructional Council at Maricopa Community Colleges. His book The Reciprocity of Perceiver and Environment is the best selling volume in Lawrence Erlbaum's Resources in Ecological Psychology and has been translated into Japanese.Dr. Lombardo is an award-winning educator with over thirty years professional experience. He has supervised college faculty, designed innumerable college courses, as well as complete undergraduate and graduate programs. His disciplinary background is very broad and highly integrative. Aside from psychology and philosophy, he has extensively studied intellectual history, evolutionary theory, cosmology, the philosophy of time, science fiction, and most recently futurist literature, ranging from the future of science and technology to the future of human society, culture, and religion. He has worked in academic, clinical training, and mental health settings, and is well versed in theories and practices of human growth, personal development, and self-fulfillment.Tom has been designing and teaching college courses and giving professional presentations on the future for the last dozen years. He is a regular contributor to the World Future Society conventions. His most recent publications include "Evolving Future Consciousness through the Pursuit of Virtue", "The Value of Future Consciousness", and "The Pursuit of Wisdom and the Future of Education" published in the annual World Future Society Anthologies, and "Thinking Ahead: The Value of Future Consciousness" published in The Futurist. Also, he has recen

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Global View of the Future 6 Feb. 2007
By Timothy C. Mack - Published on
Format: Paperback
This volume is much more eclectic than the usual review of the field, enfolding the `zeitgeist' of the study of the future as well as the methodology. The author does this by including some of the less traditional expressions of futures thinking, including an extensive review of science fiction as it is relevant to futurist thinking. Lombardo looks at science fiction not as just an entertainment medium, but as it captures spiritual and mythic themes and he quotes some of the deeper practitioners of that field, including the incomparable Olaf Stapleton and the thoughtful HG Wells. This sensitivity to the underlying cultural currents (which of course shape all foresight work) is evident in a quote taken from Neil Postman. "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one." And unfortunately, both of these dystopian visions have now come to pass in some way.

Lombardo points out that beginning with the work of HG Wells, future studies evolved beyond mere methodology for `prediction' to assessments of human society and normative proposals for improvement. And he quotes Ed Cornish concerning the movement away from the `scientific' belief in progress after World War II toward a more value-oriented recognition of the role of uncertainty in future-studies...restated by Mike Marien as the categorization of futures into `possible, probable, and preferable.'

However, this `Western scientific view' of futures was soon expanded by scholars like Richard Slaughter in a call to look beyond technology and rationalism to the humanistic and intuitive elements of a more integral (objective/subjective, individual/social) vision of how the future unfolds. What is refreshing about this book is Lombardo's willingness to look at these often opposed viewpoints in their own context and accept each of them as part of the large future studies universe. Although he has his biases, he states them clearly and gives all sides a fair hearing.

And as foresight continued to evolve, he notes that the growth of new disciplines such as complexity and chaos theory, creativity dynamics, open systems, quantum mechanics and the study of unintended consequences brought a fresh and energizing influence to the futures field. Indeed it sometimes seems to this reviewer that the ongoing debates between various `schools' of futuring concerning their perceived strengths and weaknesses may serve as a sort of Social Darwinism, that challenges and improves the tools and techniques of these various schools of futurist thought.

In a wider context, Dr. Lombardo relates the themes of change, growth, fundamentalism, cultural evolution and even temporal physics to the larger world and how these futures concepts play out in conflicts over sustainability, religion, freedom, organizational behavior, cultural pluralism and science policy. While it is not within the range of this review to do justice to the richness and depth of this compendium, the author has worked heroically to do justice to the complexity of futures thinking and capture the thought of nearly all of its leading thinkers.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The story of the future and us 31 Dec. 2006
By Copthorne Macdonald - Published on
Format: Paperback
I can't imagine a more comprehensive look at humanity's interest in, study of, and planning for our future than Thomas Lombardo has presented us with in his two recently published books, THE EVOLUTION OF FUTURE CONSCIOUSNESS, which focuses on the nature and development of "future consciousness" from ancient times through the 19th century, and CONTEMPORARY FUTURIST THOUGHT which focuses on expressions of future consciousness in the 20th and 21st centuries.

In CONTEMPORARY FUTURIST THOUGHT, Lombardo reviews in detail several 20th and 21st-century movements, or centers of interest and activity, that focus on the future. They include the science fiction phenomenon from Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to recent movies and TV shows, "future studies" in its academic and professional forms, and a concluding section on "Theories and Paradigms of the Future."

I found this last section particularly interesting. Here, Lombardo presents a wide range of contemporary views. Some of these are deterministic; they argue for a predetermined future of one kind or another. Others argue for a future determined by human values and conscious decisions. Lombardo notes that, "A common position held by many members of The World Future Society is that the future is a set of possibilities rather than one definite trajectory. Because the future is possibilities, humans have a choice in what future will be realized. Most futurists in fact talk as if they believe that the decisions made today will influence what our future will be like. We are not passive victims of supernatural destiny or natural laws."

I resonated deeply with Lombardo's closing statement: "I think that the cultivation of wisdom is an essential ingredient to creating a positive future. Wisdom integrates intellect, emotion, and action. Wisdom is grounded in an expansive awareness of the whole that acknowledges and values other people and their points of view, and involves the recognition of human fallibility and the need for courage, faith, and tempered optimism in the face of the uncertainty of the future. Wisdom is the highest expression of human development and future consciousness. If our minds are evolving and we are moving toward a New Enlightenment, then I would suggest that the essence of the New Enlightenment will be the individual and collective development of wisdom."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A prime resource for Futures Studies and Futures Foresight 12 Sept. 2006
By J. E. Foltz - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anyone interested in the future would find "Contemporary Futurist Thought" a notable resource that thoroughly reviews the various theories and paradigms, along with the modern thinkers and writers who made significant contributions to futures thinking.

Dr. Lombardo meritoriously examines the creative influences that emerge from science fiction, the systematic approaches taken in the future studies field, and the prodigious array of contemporary thought. All the pertinent people and materials are recognized throughout, which makes this book a relevant foundation for both, students of futures studies and professional futurists.

His explanations regarding futurists' roles, purposes for futures thinking and his delineation of the disagreements within the field alleviates the confusion often felt by students and professional futurists attempting to decipher the field of futures studies or to establish a consensus of future foresight, which Lombardo acknowledges as a field that has "no unified community."

I highly recommend this book as a reference source for academia and as a refresher for professionals to enrich their perspectives on the direction futures thinking is headed.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Futures thinking is more than making predictions 14 Jan. 2007
By Walter Truett Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the things that intrigues me about this book and its companion volume THE EVOLUTION OF FUTURE CONSCIOUSNESS is their implicit conviction that thinking seriously about the future is a central element in human cognition, past and present, and that as it evolves it necessarily goes well beyond making predictions. I also like its well-informed treatment of science fiction (which I have sometimes thought could as appropriately be called evolutionary fiction) as a complement (and equal) to academic and technological future studies.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The wondrous drama of the future 5 Dec. 2006
By Wendell Bell - Published on
Format: Paperback
"From the genesis of science fiction to its Golden Age and from the history, goals and methods of futures studies to its major theories and visions of the future, Thomas Lombardo in CONTEMPORARY FUTURIST THOUGHT tells the story of the wondrous drama of the future. He has written a masterpiece that inspires, entertains, informs, mesmerizes, and at times even terrifies with its powerful images of humanity's possible futures. This book is essential reading for every futurist. And it is essential, too, for any reader who wants to know what the future holds."--Wendell Bell, Yale University.
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