Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece of 21st century myth making creates a complex allegory of human liberation.

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Blade Runner 2049 is a vision of our nightmare future.

Humanity is engaged in a desperate struggle to escape its dying homeworld. The growth of the human population has collapsed the ecosystem. The survivors live in cities like ant hives, enslaved to powerful corporations.

This is the world we fear we are heading towards. A world in which the machines we built to liberate us, have instead enslaved us.

“In Blade Runner 2049, science itself has been perverted as a tool of power and control.”

In its Golden Age science fiction predicted that technology would save us. Bigger and better…


If we are told the hero is human, we can watch the murder of the android.

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The science fiction author Philip Kindred Dick believed that humans were defined — not by our intelligence or our technology — but by our empathy.

The human capacity for empathy — our ability to place our self into the experience of the other — is what makes us truly human.

It’s our capacity for empathy that makes stories possible. Without empathy for its characters, a story cannot come to life.

But as humans we also have the capacity to not feel empathy. …


Kitsch, tasteless and sycophantic. It’s no surprise Donald Trump likes this little piece of soon-to-be art history.

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There are certain paintings that impact on the history of art like like the asteroid that destroyed the dinosaurs. Picasso’s Guernica. Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The Roll Call by Elizabeth Thompson. Images that define how the world is seen, and how images are understood.

Andy Thomas portrait of Donald Trump is not one of those images.

But after being shot to fame by Trump’s decision to hang the painting in the White House, and its “accidental” television appearance soon afterwards, The Trumptoon (as…


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I spent years searching, after I first read the Culture novels of Iain M Banks, for other space opera novels that equalled them. And this is what I discovered.

Nothing else in the space opera genre even comes close to the Culture. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

As Theodore Sturgeon said, 90% of everything is crap. But as a young reader I wondered why, with all these books marketed as space opera, did none read like the Culture?

The answer is — theme.

Science fiction tends to obsess over concepts, but almost entirely ignore themes. Scifi is full of big ideas about…


We love the idea of productivity, but most productivity systems are killing our creativity

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Here’s a familiar event many artists will have encountered. You hit some creative milestone. Your new book is finished maybe, and a well meaning friend responds, "I wish I had time to write / paint / sing / INSERT CREATIVE DREAM."

Yes, there’s something more than a little passive aggressive in the statement. It seems to assume a) you somehow have access to time in a way other humans do not and b) you didn’t fight tooth and nail for that time.

To succeed at adult life, we learn to manage our time. For most of us that means "productivity"…


Chinese industrialist and futurist Zhai Shanying predicts it’s only a short matter of time before even the nation state moves online.

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Credit: BON cloud

I have just completed an experiment.

As I write this story, I am seated at a communal table with a dozen other workers. I have never met any of my colleagues before, and will never see most of them again. We are physically present in the Outpost coworking space on the tropical paradise of Bali. But our work is being carried out all around the globe.

“What hippies were to the 60s, nomads are today. What Paris was in the 20s, Chiang Mai is now.”

One by one, I have just asked my cohort of coworkers where they are and…


With its stark insight into the financial world of post 2008, Billions is a Great Gatsby for our age.

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Tv shows do what they say in the title. Friends is a show about friends. Star Trek is a show about a trek through the stars, and Breaking Bad is a show about a man breaking to bad. Billions is a show about Billionaires. But it’s also a show about the society that gives rise to billionaires, a global society of seven billion people and rising - the society of here and now.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Billions is a Great Gatsby for our times.”

There’s no missing the genetic fingerprint of HBOs prestige tv format in Showtimes…


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https://iain-m-banks-culture.deviantart.com/art/Banks-Orbital-178660874

I don’t consider myself a true fan of many things, but I am an unapologetic Iain (M) Banks fanboy.

Which is an easy thing to be. Banks is a brilliant, brilliant writer. A storyteller in the class of Neil Gaiman, with the muscular prose abilities of J G Ballard, and the conceptual imagination of an Asimov or Le Guin. I read his Culture books in my teens, his literary novels in my twenties, and re-read nearly all of them in my thirties. Just this year I’ve been working my way through Peter Kenny’s spot on audio adaptations.

So, like all…


“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

Through the most famous opening line in science fiction history, a generation of readers have entered the imagined reality of the Sprawl. Conceived in a series of short stories (later collected as Burning Chrome) and introduced to a mass audience in the 1984 novel Neuromancer, William Gibson’s dark future dystopia remains, almost 40 years later, one of the most convincing science fiction visions ever created.

“…the real strength of Gibson’s writing is not in the fantasy it conjures, but the reality it constructs, and then shatters.”

Today’s most famous scifi worlds are created on the cinema screen, or in…


Digital nomads are a 21st century counterculture. The choices they make today will shape how we live and work tomorrow.

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The global network enables us to react to the world as a whole. — Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

The centre was not holding. But that was a good thing.

It was a world caught in the fallout from credit bubbles, financial collapse and bank bailouts. Of Occupy protests on the streets of our cities and illegitimate wars that disappeared from the news cycle as fast as they had been invented to fill it. It was a world waiting for a recovery that would never arrive. Most of us were trying to pick up the pieces and put them back together…

Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.

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