The two brilliant, prescient 20th century science fiction novels you should read this election season


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Science fiction may not predict the future reliably, but sometimes, the ability of writers to pick up on the hidden, latent futuristic present proves to be remarkably prescient. Two of my favorite novels from the late 20th century were not only amazingly great reads, but they also presented enormous insight into the future of data-driven, finance-dominated, networked political campaigning. If you want to understand the 2016 election, these are the next two books you should read.


Also worth reading:


Don’t forget, service guarantees citizenship!


My personal go-to for this is another Sterling novel - Islands in the Net

Decentralized, employee owed corporations, bacterial engineering to produce cheap food, guerrilla tactics based on T.E. Lawrence…it’s got everything!


As an art historian, I loved the rips Sterling takes with modern art in Distraction. I’m probably one of the few who got the jokes and the references of a very few pages, but they were great.


Don’t forget Kosinsky’s Being There. Not SciFi but already came true.


Also, some short stories: Derrick Bell’s The Space Traders and JG Ballards The Secret History of WW3. I’ve used both in the classroom.


Interface didn’t grab me, but yeah, Distraction was brilliant, and deep, and fun, and it seems like the kind of thing that would grab Cory as well.

Ted Cruz has more of a “personal background problem” than Obama did. The Tea Party fits in really well, a decade after the book. Stickley’s still a great name for a binturong.

(And as far as I can tell, service doesn’t guarantee citizenship in the US any more, though I much prefer the “getting a graduate degree at a US college guarantees citizenship” model, since we need more highly skilled people and far fewer soldiers.)


Cory does love his namedrops, doesn’t he? It’s never “Bruce Sterling once said,” always “Bruce Sterling once told me.” Seems to come up uncommonly often.

(I just thought that was interesting, I’m not #DisappointedInBoingBoing today. Not yet, anyway–it’s still early!)


I would love to re-read Distraction, but I can’t find my copy. I probably gave it to a friend. Unfortunately I can’t buy it on kindle, and there is no room in my house for more dead trees.


The dead trees aren’t such a problem… its the undead ones you’ve got to look out for…


Isn’t it nice, being the smartest guy in the room? I really liked Distraction too, but I probably didn’t get all of the jokes and the references. Still, I’m a big fan of Bruce Springsteen!

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