I came across the coolest visual representation of the works of fiction that portray a version of the future that I have ever seen. This info packed graphic comes from BrainPickings and was originally created by Italian information visualization designer Giorgia Lupi. For any readers out there who are lovers of any kind of future related genre you will love this graphic and may be great inspiration for bibliophiles. It has organised the novels along an X and Y axis where the X axis is the year in the future the novel (or short story, comic, comic novel) deals with and the Y axis is the date that the novel was published. You will notice that each novel is either red, black, or grey and these colours denote whether the story has a positive (red), negative (black), or neutral (grey) take on the future. Another feature which I thought was very helpful was the symbols placed along the X axis which let you know what the novels are more or less about; environmental, sociological, travel-adventure, technological, scientific, or political.
Enjoy perusing this awesome table (click the image to see a larger version) and immediately after you’ll find my 10 reading picks from the novels on this table.
My 10 Reading Picks (in order of date in the future) from the Table
Set in 2020, Air by Geoff Ryman
Chung Mae is the only connection her small farming village has to culture of a wider world beyond the fields and simple houses of her village. A new communications technology is sweeping the world and promises to connect everyone, everywhere without power lines, computers, or machines. This technology is Air. An initial testing of Air goes disastrously wrong and people are killed from the shock. Not to be stopped Air is arriving with or without the blessing of Mae’s village. Mae is the only one who knows how to harness Air and ready her people for it’s arrival, but will they listen before it’s too late?
Set in 2035, The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal. Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use “please” and “thank you” and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself. But then his quiet life comes under attack. It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music–with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world–shades and hues that others cannot see? Most importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Would it be easier for her to return the love of a “normal”?
Set in 2038, Everyone’s Just So So Special by Robert Shearman
The history of the world. All of it. Its wars, its empires. Each and every one of its decline-and-falls. It’s really terribly simple. It’s the story of a bunch of mediocrities who are trying to look special. And it is my duty, it is my pleasure, to expose the lot of them. A little boy who betrays his father to the mercies of Santa Claus. An assassin whose personality is so insipid he erases people with his very presence. A kitty cat that likes to hunt only endangered species. Camel marriages, killer angels, and conjuring tricks that cause worldwide plague. The history of mankind. As told through twenty-one tales of the comic and the macabre. Frightening and funny. Heartbreaking and wise.
Set in 2082, the Otherland series starting with The City of Golden Shadow by Tad Williams
Renie Sulaweyo, a teacher in the South Africa of tomorrow, realizes something is wrong on the network. Kids, including her brother Stephen, have logged into the net, and cannot escape. Clues point to a mysterious golden city called Otherland, but investigators all end up dead.
Set in 2086, Blindsight by Peter Watts
It’s been two months since a myriad of alien objects clenched about the Earth, screaming as they burned. The heavens have been silent since – until a derelict space probe hears whispers from a distant comet. Something talks out there: but not to us. Who to send to meet the alien, when the alien doesn’t want to meet? Send a linguist with multiple-personality disorder, and a biologist so spliced to machinery he can’t feel his own flesh. Send a pacifist warrior, and a vampire recalled from the grave by the voodoo of paleogenetics. Send a man with half his mind gone since childhood. Send them to the edge of the solar system, praying you can trust such freaks and monsters with the fate of a world. You fear they may be more alien than the thing they’ve been sent to find – but you’d give anything for that to be true, if you knew what was waiting for them.
Set in 2107, Blind Faith by Ben Elton
As Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of commuters, he is confronted by the intimidating figure of his priest, full of accusatory questions. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he think he’s different or special in some way? Does he have something to hide? Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a person “feels” and “truly believes” is protected under the law, while what is rational, even provable, is condemned as heresy. A world where to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a crime against Faith. Ben Elton’s dark, savagely comic novel imagines a postapocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a confessional sex-obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom, and privacy is a dangerous perversion. A chilling vision of what’s to come, or something rather close to what we call reality?
Set in 2108, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Winning will make you famous. Losing means certain death. In a dark vision of the near future, a terrifying reality TV show is taking place. Twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live event called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed. When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.
Set in 2240, Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected — by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story…
Set in 2312, is 2312 by Kim S Robinson
The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future. The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.
Set in 2320, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Anderson Lake is a company man, AgriGen’s Calorie Man in Thailand. Under cover as a factory manager, Anderson combs Bangkok’s street markets in search of foodstuffs thought to be extinct, hoping to reap the bounty of history’s lost calories. There, he encounters Emiko. Emiko is the Windup Girl, a strange and beautiful creature. One of the New People, Emiko is not human; instead, she is an engineered being, creche-grown and programmed to satisfy the decadent whims of a Kyoto businessman, but now abandoned to the streets of Bangkok. Regarded as soulless beings by some, devils by others, New People are slaves, soldiers, and toys of the rich in a chilling near future in which calorie companies rule the world, the oil age has passed, and the side effects of bio-engineered plagues run rampant across the globe. What Happens when calories become currency? What happens when bio-terrorism becomes a tool for corporate profits, when said bio-terrorism’s genetic drift forces mankind to the cusp of post-human evolution? Award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers one of the most highly acclaimed science fiction novels of the twenty-first century.