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The Rough Guide to The Future (Rough Guide Reference) Paperback – 1 Nov 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides (1 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858287812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858287812
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 2 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 516,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have been a science writer most of my life, with excursions into cultural history, poetry, futures studies - and stints in academia, the civil service (briefly) and publishing (even more briefly). Nowadays, I freelance from Bristol, spending most of my time on books. I also write about jazz, just for fun.

My latest offering is the Rough Guide to the Future. My favourite (and also I think the most informative) review so far is here -

Product Description

About the Author

Jon Turney is a science writer and former features editor of The Times' Higher Education supplement, with degrees in Biochemistry and History of Science. He has taught at UCL and was head of the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Imperial College

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By peterwasher on 24 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
This book starts with a review of `futurology' from historical sources, such as HG Wells. The middle part of the book looks at the near future, and the problems that we will face in our lifetimes - from population, energy and climate, to water and food. The final section of the book pushes to the limits of current scientific knowledge, and here Turney's explanations of esoteric scientific concepts really are exceptional. However, what marks this out from similar pop science books is the way that Turney not only holds the reader's hand through the difficult science, but when the limits of that scientific knowledge are reached, he then reviews how science fiction writers (such as Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake, or Cormac McCarthy's The Road) have pushed beyond the science with their thought experiments. Erudite, pithy, and frequently funny. A tour de force.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas on 16 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Rough Guides series generally covers topics that are intended to be dipped in and out of, and yet this is a book that should be read like a novel, beginning at chapter 1 and ending some 18 chapters later. The format, to put it lightly, does not suit it. It has boxes of text spotted throughout, which are better suited for people who want to know what's so special about the Colosseum in the guide to Italy - in this book, they break flow and leave you wondering when you should read them. Do you read them after you finish the chapter? Or as you begin a page? Or just ignore them entirely? These are the single worst factor of this book; about a quarter of the content will require consciously deciding when to read it, as they do not comfortably fit into the narrative.
This, combined with the two-column approach, make you wish that Turney had found another publisher who would encourage him to write this in a more straightforward fashion.

On a more positive note, it is well written, and thoroughly researched. Sometimes there is a bias - for example, in the chapter on Population, Turney notes that population was predicted to overtake food supply already, and then goes on to predict that population will overtake food supply in the near future without a hint of irony. The book suffers at times from the breadth of the topic it has taken, and will require frequent thought-breaks (or slower reading) in order to process what Turney is saying. However, generally it is entertaining enough, and it is not the writing itself that is at fault.

If this were written without the 'Rough guide' editorial aspects, it would be a much more successful book. As-is, it leaves something to be desired; though anyone who can force through the enforced Rough Guide style to read it front-to-back will feel like they earned the information they gained from it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Serious Forecasting 17 Mar. 2011
By Sue Lange - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Predicting the future is a fool's pastime, but it's a lot of fun so everybody does it. Turney's book is not a mere reading of the tea leaves or a consultation with the crystal ball, however. You will not find out where the next Elvis sighting is going to be from this book. What you will discover are the current big problems facing us and where we're headed if we don't solve them. The Rough Guide to the Future is well researched with citations and suggestions for further reading on every subject the author tackles.

Turney begins by describing how futurology works. He explains how prediction starts with a solid understanding of the past and present before proceeding to the future. Once he begins forecasting proper, he breaks down the future into several areas: population, climate change, water and food supply, etc. Turney is concerned with the big picture: the entire world. This is sensible because we're all connected. We've been saying that for about half a century, but since the 90s we really have been connected. And we are becoming more so as time passes. You get a sense of just how connected when you read this book.

Throughout, Turney includes sidebars with opinions from 50 individuals he considers experts. These people are, for the most part, from the tech, academia, or global political scenes. Many are folks in the trenches of global strife. Most are important in their fields but not necessarily known out in the wider scheme. Some are celebrities of the tech world. One thing is for sure, you won't find any of these people behind a purple curtain in a little East Village storefront.

The book's final sections deal with Transhumanism and the Technological Singularity, things you don't read about every day. They're wilder than science fiction and we could easily write them off as witchery or leftover religiosity. But Transhumanism and the Singularity is taken seriously by a number of the big brains running around influencing policy. It behooves us all to become acquainted with the ideas behind this radical thought.

I was familiar with a lot of the information in this book. Who has not heard the horror stories of peak oil and melting glaciers and the resultant end of humanity? Due to the wealth of information and opinion the Internet brings us, though, I find much of it overwhelming. Turney has done an excellent job of sorting through all the jabber that flies across the desktop every day. He gives us a good picture of what is going on right now, more important even than a solid prediction of what is going to happen. It's more important because the future is not here and there's nothing we can do with that yet. What we need to do is something with what we have now. His rough guide is a good starting place for research on all the strings to keep track of if we're going to stay on track.
just ok... 2 Nov. 2014
By josh lewis - Published on
Format: Paperback
Not quite what I expected, but fun and mostly harmless.
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