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The History of Our Future

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
by Douglas Adams
“DON’T PANIC” is written in large friendly red letters on the front of the Guide. It is advice Arthur Dent needs. In the last hour he’s lost his house to a local bypass and his planet to an interstellar one. Now he discovers that his friend Ford Prefect is actually from Betegeuse and not from Islingdon, as he thought. It is the first of many discoveries he has yet to make, such as Vogon poetry (truly awful), the truth about Earth (the mice planned it), and where to get the best Pangalactic GargleBlaster.

The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood
She still remembers her daughter, her husband and the freedom of her life before the USA became the State of Gilead. Now all that is gone. She is a Handmaid, a legal concubine conscripted by the State, placed in the home of a childless Commander and his Wife. All women wear the designated clothing for their position and are strictly regulated. To step outside means death, but isn’t anything better than the life left to her?

The Demolished Man
by Alfred Bester
Ben Reich committed a murder during a huge society party—no easy task when a quarter of the population is telepathic. Esper (think ESP) cop Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, but still has to prove it. Somewhere out there is a frightened witness and the race is on to find her.

The Planet of the Apes
by Pierre Boulle
When the professor and his companions bend time and space to reach the planet they are shocked to find a ruling class of apes hunting and enslaving humans. The ape elite is no happier at being forced to accept the existence of a rational man. Unsettling discoveries at an archeological site raise further questions as to the nature of “genuine’ rationality and civilization, for ape or human.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
Everything had been so simple for Montag: books made people unhappy, it was his duty as a fireman to burn the books. Then he read one instead, and all his carefully built denial about his life and society fell apart. He couldn’t stop reading and he couldn’t stop seeing the misery, isolation and violence around him.

The Shockwave Rider
by John Brunner
The shock is Future Shock. Everyone is plugged into the national data Net, able to move anywhere they choose and nearly devoid of family or community ties. For Nicky the Net is a hiding place, allowing him to constantly rewrite his identity and move on to evade Tarnover, a sinister government think tank. Now the same horrified compassion that drove him from Tarnover is forcing him to stand against it and the government it represents in order to save those he has come to care for.

Parable of the Sower
by Octavia Butler
This is the diary of teenaged hyperempath Lauren, 2024-2027. She begins with her life in Robledo, a community barricaded against the urban decay and violence that surrounds it, learning to accept and live with her gift. When violence destroys her home Lauren takes to the road, seeking a place to establish a community based on her religion Earthseed, which preaches “God is Change”.

Rising Of The Moon
by Flynn Connolly
The title is also that of a song of the Irish Rebellion and a new rebellion, one of women, is beginning as Dr. Nuala Dennehy returns home after 15 years. She had to leave Ireland to study Irish history and now finds her homeland dominated by a repressive alliance of Church and State. She is drawn into a small group that begins with pranks and eventually finds herself forced into leadership, a symbol for the repressed and a target for the oppressors.

Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)
by Phillip K. Dick
An electric sheep is all Deckard can afford and he’s too ashamed to admit his valued live sheep died. In this pollution-ridden Earth, live animals are treasured and human beings have banned Replicants, sophisticated androids from landing. Shared electronic empathy has created a cult, and Deckard uses empathic tests to sort out the androids from the humans, a tricky and dangerous task. He is ever more aware of the questions of what truly constitutes humanity and who has the right to decide, but philosophy and making a living don’t always coincide.

Exit To Reality
by Edith Forbes
In the 29th Century the Regens (regenerated humans) live in a highly perfected and protected world. Euclid (aka Lydian) encounters Proteus (aka Merle) in cyberspace is intrigued enough to make a non-virtual trip to Paris to meet him. His shape-shifting abilities frighten and fascinate her, but the turns and twists in gender are only the beginning in an affair that twists her perception of the world as well.

by William Gibson
Gibson is cyberpunk’s daddy and his hero Case is a legendary hacker, or rather he was until he got a little too greedy and got his neural paths fried. Someone, however, has paid for his restoration in order to use his extraordinary talents on a dangerous but puzzling target. Case could end up a very rich man, if his curiosity, his job, or his companions don’t kill him first.

Queen City Jazz
by Kathleen Ann Goonan
In a future Ohio, Verity lives in a New Shaker community that rejects all the nanotechnology that destroyed the Enlivened cities with plagues. Despite her family’s care, they are infected as well, resulting in madness and death. Verity’s only hope is to travel downriver to Cincinnati and risk herself in it’s enigmatic maze of nanotechnology. If she can master it, it will hold the keys to restoring her loved ones.

The Glimmering
by Elizabeth Hand
The lurid colors of the Glimmering in the sky are a visible reminder of disaster, as are the flooding from global warming. The flooding of increasing urban decay lap at the walls of his family’s Manhattan home as Jack Finnegan returns, dying of the inner decay of AIDS. His life, as well of those of a runaway girl, a gospel singer turned addicted rocker, and international terrorists, will decide whether New Year’s Eve 1999 is a celebration of hope or destruction.

Into the Forest
by Jean Hegland
Nell and Eva had the usual teenage dreams: romance, college, dancing. They loved their home in the redwoods and their parents. When the power faltered, then died, so did most of their expectations of a normal life. Then their parents died, one after the other, and they had only each other. Despite anger, fear, and threatening invaders, they survive and learn that although some dreams may die, hope doesn’t have to.

Riddley Walker: a Novel
by Russell Hoban
His life IS a riddle for him to unravel in this post-nuclear rural world. Tiny isolated communities scavenge machinery and live in a world of seers, fables, ritual puppet shows and history transmuted into saints’ legends. “Dog frendy” (sic) Riddley walks away from his village and into the countryside, always musing on his encounters and the stories he’s been told. The language takes some getting used to, but Riddley is highly engaging company.

The Children of Men
by P.D. James
No children have been born anywhere in the world for 25 years. In Britain the youngest generation is a lawless elite, the older citizens create child substitutes and hobbies, and the Warden of England promises security while promoting ritual suicide of the oldest and most infirm. By accident, Theo is drawn out of his academic detachment and into a group of rebels and chain of events that will actually make a difference.

Good News From Outer Space

by John Kessell
Rev. Jimmy-Don Gilroy’s Millennialist Church awaits the arrival of the Father Ship on Dec. 31, 1999. All indications are, however, that SOMEONE has already arrived and that may or may not be good news. News is what tabloid reporter (and recently revived dead man) George Eberhart wants and he won’t quit until he gets this story…but he may be sorry.

The Last Day
by Glenn Kleir
Who is the young woman who has suddenly appeared in Jerusalem? Is she truly a messenger from God, the survivor of a top-secret experiment, or someone else entirely? Reporters, scoffers and believers flock to hear her speak, hungry for hope on the eve of the Millennium. When it’s a question of faith versus fact, which will speak the loudest?

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days
by Tim LaHaye & Jim Jenkins
The Book of Revelations is coming true. Natural disasters sweep the world and the true believers have been taken up to heaven, leaving shock, grief and destruction behind. Those who remain struggle with guilt, shame and disbelief. Those who believe are studying and preparing for another promise to be fulfilled: that of the AntiChrist.

The Green Millennium
by Fritz Leiber
Phil Gish is broke, unemployed…and full of optimism. Could that green cat be the reason? He’s not about to let Lucky, as he calls him, out of his sight , and follows him into some very strange company. They all want to get Lucky too – the sinister shrink, the wrestler, the gangsters, even government agents – but they’re not always so crazy about Phil.

Evolution’s Shore
by Ian MacDonald
Gaby is right where she wants to be. She’s a SkyNet News reporter in Tanzania, temptingly close to the leading edge of the Chaga, an alarmingly well-adapted alien life form. Her lover is the top researcher in the field (quite literally). She’s gotten some big stories, but the biggest is still out of reach…what IS the Chaga?

Souls in the Great Machine
by Sean McMullen
No wimps need apply. Mathematics and marksmanship are necessary job skills to rise through the ranks at Libris, library of the Mayorate of Rochester, in a future low-tech Australia. The HighLiber has killed over 19 people to get where she is. Knowledge is power and her secret weapon is the Calculator, a human-mechanical device.

A Canticle for Liebowitz
by Walter Miller
After nuclear disaster came the Simplification, books burned and academics slaughtered. When illiteracy is a source of pride only a few scattered monasteries preserve salvaged texts. At first these relics are meaningless, but eventually comprehension comes, then technology rises again. Miller wryly watches as the urge for knowledge and the urge for power interact.

01-01-00: A Novel of the Millennium
by R.J. Pineiro
On December 11, 1999, all the computers in the world froze at the same time for 20 seconds. They froze for 19 seconds on the following day, and for 18 on the next. Alerted to this countdown, hacker tracker Susan Garnett begins a search that takes her all the way to Central America and 1200 years into the past. What is the Mayan connection Garnett and archeologist Cameron Slater uncover and what does it mean here and now?

Unquenchable Fire
by Rachael Pollack
Jenny Mazdan’s world could best be described as suburban pagan. Bright and Dark Ones manifest-but they may do so in pink sunglasses. Commercial demon repellent is available and national holidays feature the telling of sacred stories and tacky T-shirts. When Jenny finds herself pregnant by no human agency, she is first terrified, than furious. She may be carrying a female messiah, but she would have liked to have SOME say in the matter.

Trouble and Her Friends
by Melissa Scott
Trouble is living up to her name, or rather someone else is. When India (cybername “Trouble”) gives up hacking in response to punitive new laws, someone else steals her identity to commit a crime. Now she’ll find out who her real friends are as she sorts through the virtual masks and mazes of cyberspace.

Higher Education
by Charles Sheffield
A stupid practical joke expels our adolescent hero from school and into a new job opportunity in outer space. Leaving parents more interested in his support payments than his well-being, he moves from apathy to a desire to gain one of the few spots available. Finally he’s realizing he has a brain, and feelings, and even courage.

The Fifth Sacred Thing
by Starhawk
Starhawk is best known for her neo-pagan nonfiction (The Spiral Dance) and here she takes her beliefs for a fictional test run. The future San Francisco is a multi-cultural eco-friendly exposition of Starhawk’s views. Further south lie communities more interested in money and power and less willing to live and let live. What will survival entail for the less aggressive San Franciscans?

The Diamond Age: Or A Young Ladies Illustrated Primer
by Neal Stephenson
In the near future society has fragmented into dozens of large and small self-contained communities: Confuscianist, Neo-Victorian, etc. Nanotechnology is commonplace. When John Hackworth, Neo-Victorian engineer, creates the Primer on commission for a wealthy patron’s niece, he can’t resist making an illegal copy for his daughter. When this is stolen and lands in the hands of a poor thete girl, it radically changes her life and, eventually, the course of history.

Family Tree
by Sherri Tepper
Two trunks of stories growing parallel soon join in surprising ways. In a world of aristocracy and slaves, a quest is begun to prevent disaster. In a modern city, cop Dora Henry is investigating the puzzling murders of scientists as sentient greenery spreads through the streets. Humans and animals find common cause on a larger family tree and some hard decisions, and more travels, are yet to come.