The Rough Guide to the Future

This was a big project long pondered and then finally attempted – an effort to take stock of the mid-term (21st century) future and all its problems, topped and tailed with some reflection on the history of futures and stuff about more cosmic timescales. It was shortlisted for the Royal Society’s science book prize in the UK in 2011, though wasn’t a huge commercial success – I suspect because I try to take a measured view of both the (huge) problems and of more auspicious future prospects.

Anyhow, no longer in print the old fashioned way, though I daresay you can track down a copy, but still on offer as an e-book. The blog I began when the book was in progress has some marginal thoughts on the same topics, and still occasionally sees new entries when something relevant comes up.

Lots of reviews for this one:

“A thought-provoking and refreshingly optimistic view of the future across the whole range of the sciences, with a highly original style of brief and multi-focused presentations, that sets it apart from conventional scientific writing.“ Judges’ comment, Royal Society Book Prize shortlist.

“Reading this book will definitely make you feel smarter and give you a good basic grounding on the issues that will confront humanity in the decades ahead.” (from Library Thing)

“Turney has clearly done his homework and deftly uses quotes, facts and asides to enliven the text” New Scientist

“as comprehensive an analysis of forecast data and topical opinion that you’re likely to find, and one I heartily recommend.”

“really very good”. Alex Evans,

“Erudite, pithy, and frequently funny. A tour de force.” Five star review on Amazon UK

“Jon Turney’s writing … is great, wonderfully readable and well crafted”

“As a general introduction to thinking about the future—one which treats the domain of inquiry as a series of specific dimensions of the future, such as energy, population, food supply, water, health, and ecology/biodiversity—Turneyʼs book is the best I have ever encountered.”

“an excellent, compelling, accessible overview of futurology that rewards both skimming and deeper reading. Gathering together ideas from many disciplines and opinions from diverse perspectives, he offers a moderate, believable, but still thrilling exploration of what lies ahead.” Mike Treder, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

“This is a wide-ranging and thoroughly researched book, reviewing not just possible futures for the environment, but also medicine, ageing, social changes, warfare and information technology. At times it reads more like the work of a UN committee than a lone science writer”. The Guardian
(just to clarify, there was no committee, although I occasionally wished there was…)