“Visionaries, prophets and seers are common to all mankind,” says Bruce Sterling, “but only societies with science can breed futurists.”

Arc is a magazine about the future, but we’re still working out what that means. So we asked one of Sterling, one of science fiction’s more astute writers and commentators to explain: what is futurism anyway?

Sterling’s response – a trademark mixture of sardonic observation and practical optimism – kicks off Arc’s inaugural issue. Here’s a snippet.

"Combine the aggressive confidence of science and the speculative needs of business and you get that unique Western omen-reader, the futurist. His basic task: to foresee what will become “modern” while it is still futuristic. It’s dodgy work, but someone has to try it.

"Since no mere human being can possibly know the future, futurism is always peculiar and sometimes hazardous. The precursor work of all futurism, published way back in 1795, was the Marquis de Condorcet’s Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit. Condorcet was a brilliant Enlightenment mathematician who daringly threw himself into French revolutionary politics. While hiding underground from the Terror, Condorcet wrote his heartfelt forecast of a golden, rational, technocratic world.

"They caught him. He died in jail."

Find out what happened next in Arc 1.1, available on Kindle and iPad in late February. We’ll be announcing more authors soon!


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