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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5 Non-Heteronormative SciFi Romances to Heat Up Your Escapism

  Sometimes you just need a little break from reality. Science fiction, fantasy, and romance are favorite escapes, but it can be hard to break the cis-boy meets cis-girl monotony. To kick off “beach read season”, here are five scifi and fantasy books that feature people of many genders falling in love in fantastic settings. Reintegration by Eden French Lexi is a cyborg with a unique mind reading implant, and she’s being hunted by a ruthless organization who will stop at nothing to regain their technology. She falls in with a group of misfits who might be the key to unlocking her …

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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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Harlots is the Most Feminist Show You’re Not Watching

There has been much buzz about Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale — the dystopian drama set in a theocratic future where women are owned and bred like animals. Less talked about but just as good is their other series Harlots, which is an exercise in the power of the female gaze.   Harlots is the story of two rival brothels in 18th century London run by madames Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley. Harlots is unique as a feminist show in two ways. The first is that the entire creative team behind the show — the producers, director, writers, and most of …

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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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Exit West’s Magical Realism Is a Blueprint for Compassionate Policy

Moshin Hamid’s ethereal, richly detailed world of magical realism simultaneously captures the minutia of human relationships and the sweeping tide of globalization in a beautiful study of character and culture. But its most impressive accomplishment is creating an effective blueprint for compassionate immigration policy in an increasingly bleak landscape. Exit West maps the relationship between fiercely independent Nadia, who wears traditional robes as battle armor while navigating a society hostile to women, and introverted Saeed, a thoughtful romantic torn between tradition and modernity. They meet in an intentionally non-specific war-torn city in the Middle East, their budding love a fresh and …

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