Aug 31, 2022 2 min read

Past futures; living with megastructures; and nostalgia

Past futures; living with megastructures; and nostalgia
Photo by Lianhao Qu / Unsplash

Hello fellow Frivolous!

These past two weeks I’ve spent on my two writing projects, planning out the next phase of Frivolous (exciting things coming), and a curious thought.  I remembered a scene in Iron Man 2 that got me thinking.  The scene is where Tony Stark is watching an ad video his father had made, at the end of which there’s a clip of his father leaving a message for Tony.  He says how everything he’d built was for Tony, and then he said something curious: that he couldn’t realize his vision because he was limited by the technology of his time.

I’ve been thinking about this since.  This is the core of speculative fiction - that we imagine things that we can’t ,as yet, make real.  But this sent me down a rabbit hole of sorts: do inventions and discoveries take place in a linear fashion through history?  If Stark Sr.’s statement is true, then it suggests that there are stepping-stone discoveries and applications that are necessary first.

This also sparked an interest in exploring the “history of our future” (which sounds clever, maybe even cliché).  But it’s really a study on how speculative fiction depicted futures throughout history and how our imagination has evolved over time.  Compare the Dr. Who shows of 1960 vs. the reboot; or the ideas of space travel and habitation in Babylon 5 versus the Expanse series.

My reading recommendations below are a shout-out to this question.  Enjoy!

Older Futures

The two works that piqued my interest are We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.  This is a dystopian novel, suppressed in Russia for 60 years.  It’s set in glass-domed city, the totalitarian society of OneState, ruled by an all-powerful “Benefactor.”  The story walks us through the impositions of such a society and the daring of a character who strives for individuality and freedom.  If this reminds of you Orwell’s 1984, it would, since this book influenced Orwell while he was writing it.

The second is a trilogy by Christopher Hinz: The Paratwa Saga, first published in the 1980s.  Humanity has fled earth after a nuclear apocalypse and live in orbital colonies.  The apocalypse had seen the creation of a deadly warrior force, the Paratwa, genetically modified to occupy two bodies with one mind.  The trilogy starts off when, 200 years after the apocalypse, one of the most feared Paratwa is re-awakened to terrorize what’s left of humanity.


Shout out to one of you readers for bringing this to my attention!  A new indie sci-fi movie trailer is out showcasing some jaw-dropping CG work.  Orbital, produced and directed by Hashem Al-Ghaili deals with what goes into constructing rings around Earth and the consequences for generations of people during and after the construction of mind-bogglingly structures.  The film is expected out later this year.

The internet is nothing if not a chronicler of our creations, however small or impactful.  One just has to look at the blogs that were started by hopeful individuals who became too busy to continue. is a interesting curator of all things tech, culture, and nostalgia.  It’s the latter that caught my eye, with articles such as An Atari Lookback.  Take a read and subscribe if this tickles your fancy.

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