Our response to Charlottesville

We watched the violence and hatred in Charlottesville with horror and anger. The attitudes we saw there aren’t new, and they shouldn’t surprise any of us, but they should make us all rise up and demand better of our country. The goal of FutureShift is to play what role we can in bringing about a better world, and if our future doesn’t have justice and equality for all people, then it’s not actually better. FutureShift was founded by, and so far continues to be the work of, two white women. Since the beginning of this project, we’ve been aware that …

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Stronger than Superman: Power in our Stories

Superman

Power is the great and necessary evil in our fiction. Some characters pursue it single-mindedly (and chances are, even if they start out with the best intentions, it will corrupt them). Others will do anything to avoid power, only to have it thrust upon them. But in a time where so many people feel powerless in the real world, I’ve been thinking a lot about how power actually works – in life, and in our fiction. When we use the word “power,” it has several different meanings. In the broadest sense, I think power is a person or character’s ability …

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Wonder Woman: When Superpowers Meet the Real World

Wonder Woman

This post is rife with spoilers for Wonder Woman. Consider yourself warned. Wonder Woman might be set during World War I, but in its darkness, it feels surprisingly relevant to us today. It asks the same question we’re all asking ourselves right now: how do we defeat evil in the world? What does it actually take? Superhero movies always have evil villains to defeat — it comes with the territory. Whether those villains are literal gods, demons, or overly ambitious humans, they share a certain solidity. You know that they’re evil. You can take comfort in that fact, and trust …

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Writing Prompt: Health Care in 2067

We’re in the middle of a war (if we can dignify it with that term — it’s more like a gratuitously bloody brawl) that will shape our health care system for decades to come. The next few weeks will be significant, and too many people’s lives are riding on the outcome. But we’ve been in the trenches so long that it’s hard, at least for me, to remember our original vision. Obamacare was the compromise legislation, never the end goal. Real, affordable, quality healthcare feels very far away. But what if it wasn’t? As writers, we can explore a better …

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Review: Company Town

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Technology is status. Technology is power. And when technology becomes part of our bodies, the distance between the haves and the have-nots becomes wider than ever. In Madeline Ashby’s Company Town, every child is engineered to correct genetic “defects,” and everyone has technological augmentations to enhance their organic abilities. Well, almost everyone. Hwa’s family is poor. Not only does she lack the augmentations other people rely on, but she has a medical condition that in most people would have been corrected long ago. When a new company takes over her town, her “organic” status becomes an unexpected asset — it …

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Jedi Wisdom for Activists

Happy May the Fourth! This Star Wars Day, we’re honoring the Rebel Alliance and everything Star Wars has taught us about how to be activists. Here are some of our favorite lessons and inspiration from the Skywalkers and their allies that have given us hope. Has Star Wars inspired you to fight the evil empire? Tweet with #May4thRebellion and tell us what you’re doing for the rebellion today. Do or do not. There is no try. The Empire is massive, and it can seem too vast and powerful to turn aside, never mind stop it. But then, lifting a ship …

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Missing from our Speculative Fiction: Government that Works

President Snow from the Hunger Games

This post is the first in an occasional series about elements we wish were more included in speculative fiction today. They do exist out there, but if they were incorporated more, they could help shift how we think about the future and social change. Today’s topic: good government.   Speculative fiction and political intrigue go hand in hand, yet we tend to see the same few stories about the same governments, over and over. In fantasy, you have your monarchies (benevolent or corrupt) or the occasional oligarchy, mostly based on hereditary power structures. This is your Game of Thrones territory. …

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Alternative Facts, Fake News, and Our Dystopian Present

Shredded newsprint

I’ve found it hard to write about Trump. I’ve faced writer’s block in the same way I’ve faced decision paralysis about my activism: with so much wrong, where do you start? But there’s one issue that underlies all the others, and that’s the Trump Administration’s attack on the media — and worse, our society’s abandonment of facts. This isn’t new. It’s no surprise that the candidate who banned reporters on the campaign trail would refuse to let them ask questions in press conferences after he becomes president. It’s appalling, but again not surprising, that Steve Bannon told the media to …

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Review: Infomocracy Gives Us Democracy at its Best and Worst

Democracy is the worst system of government, except for all the others. This is the central tenet of Malka Older’s debut novel Infomocracy, which does in fine form what I wish more speculative fiction would attempt: she uses fiction to imagine better ways for our society to operate. Then, of course, it all goes to hell. In Infomocracy, set decades in our future, modern nation-states no longer exist. Instead, the globe is divided into centenals: regions with a population of 100,000 that vote to choose their own local government. In sparsely populated rural areas, one centenal could cover hundreds of …

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Escaping Dystopia: How Stories Matter in a Trump Presidency

I didn’t expect this. Election night changed so much for our work, our progressive movement, for all the issues that we care about. I spent the past week reeling, grieving, trying to process what happened and what Trump’s presidency will mean for me and people I care about. I wondered what I can do. I’m sure you went through a similar cycle. When Amanda and I talked last week, we had to ask each other: what does this mean for FutureShift? We’ve both put our hearts into this project, and we believe deeply in it, but at a moment when …

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