COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive
Where Diamond warns against “excessive” development, for many in the developing world it is precisely the lack of development that leaves them poor and hungry.’
The constant doubling and twinning of characters who are linked and contrasted in different ways – Orhan and Ka (literary), the sisters (blood), Fazil and his blood brother (religion). There is the weaving in of the novelistic tradition from Kafka to Borges which always escapes mere novelty.
The Anxious City
That we look to that we look to examples of foreign cities for success, says a great deal about the lack of ideas, confidence and vision at home. This insight is profoundly important. To make his point he suggests that in all the anxiety about the place of the English city within the European context, ‘English architectural culture (Lord Richard) Rogers has become the self-appointed prophet of doom.’
The clue is in the title ‘cultures and natures’: this book is sustainability meets relativism, and it basks in the vacuity of ‘critical pluralism.’
Masterworks of Technology
What a refreshing change, as they say. This is a book that oozes calm intelligence and an ease of imparting knowledge that at once informs and avoids patronising its audience.
Dark Age Ahead
A Dark Age is the dead-end of culture. Essentially, her premise is that cultures have tended historically to die out as a result of external forces invading and destroying the memories of the subjugated peoples or countries, whereas this is not the danger today. Today, more than at any time in history, Culture with a capital ‘C’ is in danger of imploding; of being destroyed from within.
The message – the inevitability of our downfall as we overstretch ourselves – is no doubt familiar to contemporary audiences, but quite alien to the visionary writing that inspired Asimov’s short stories in the early 70s. Here we review the book and the movie to see the changed way in which we view ourselves.
How We Can Save The Planet
Under headings such as ‘What should scare you most’ or ‘these figures should shock you’ the author berates us for our energy-profligacy. Rising expectations, he makes the equation, inevitably mean continued climate change. It’s as simple as that. We must divorce resource use from illusory notions of well being without delay, if we are not to succumb to the threat posed by what he describes as the single biggest problem facing humanity.
Commuting: The Life Sentence
‘Even though Britain has the longest commute times in Europe, commuting still takes up just a measly 46 minutes of our day… that’s 23 minutes each way. Surely we should be getting this so-called problem into perspective.’
Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age
by Greg Klerkx
Do we need NASA anymore? According to Greg Klerkx, NASA is the main barrier to realising the potential of a human future in space. Conceived during the Cold War as a means of defeating the Soviets in space, the agency has since evolved into a timid bureaucracy, jealous of its monopoly on space activities and afraid of innovation. Klerkx documents how the agency, determined to defend jobs and funding for its main programmes, the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, has strangled independent attempts to create commercial opportunities in space.
Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals
by John Gray
Why does J.G Ballard call the book ‘exhilarating’, Will Self named it as his favourite book of the year and Brian Appleyard states that ‘read properly this book will give you peace’? It is unlikely that it was the prospect of human extinction that these writers found so exciting.
Dan Dare or Dan Daren’t
The Future Visions: Future Cities conference held at the LSE in December, supported by the Architects Journal, examined the role of the city through the prism of politics, culture and economics
Reviewed by David Clements
This synopsis examines some of the issues arising out of the final plenary at the Future Visions: Future Cities conference.
There’s No Such Thing As Society… Only Local Solutions
Reviewed by David Clements
People “should be told to be braver” if the widespread and socially-damaging fear of crime and strangers is to be beaten, said Miranda Sawyer, author of “Park and Ride” in her presentation to the Future Visions: Future Cities conference.
Tomorrow’s People: How 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way we Think and Feel
by Susan Greenfield
Greenfield, renowned neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, indulges her literary ambitions to create a speculative dystopia owing much to Huxley.
Interview with Peter Schwartz
Peter Schwartz, as one of the world’s most eminent futurologists – or scenario planners was advisor to Spielberg movie, Minority Report, imagineering urban visions of the future to make Phillip K Dick’s science fiction visually believable. Last month he was in London to launch his new book, Inevitable Surprises: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century.
Futuro: Tomorrow’s House from Yesterday
edited by Marko Home and Mika Taanila
When (the Futuro house) was installed aboard a ferry on the Thames at the ‘Finfocus’ export fair in the Sixites, the Daily Mail wrote: ‘This object, looking like everyone else’s idea of a flying saucer from outer space, is the Finnish idea of a perfect weekend cottage.’
Cities for a Small Planet
by Anne Power and Richard Rogers
(This book) is very convincing, in the same way that a Blairite speech is: once you reflect on the platitudinous nature of the content you realise that there is nothing definitive in it at all.
Seven Wonders of the Industial World
The television drama-documentary of key moments in industrial history that changed the world
Rocket Dreams: How the Space Age Shaped Our Vision of World Beyond
by Marina Benjamin
What became of our dreams of the aspirations that fuelled the ‘space age’ of the 50’s and 60’s? In this fascinating study Marina Benjamin takes on this problem in a fresh and innovative way.
The Art of Travel
by Alain de Botton
This fascinating book, written by Alain De Botton, examines the diverse motives that moved great men of the past … He does this by juxtaposing their great experiences to the far less heroic experiences of De Botton himself.
Faster: The acceleration of just about everything?
by James Gleick
Faster is a quick paced, entertaining description of the spread of technology and its impact on our lives.
Where’s My Space Age?
by Sean Topham
The author enthuses about the Space Age while simultaneously being appalled by its excesses.
Projected Cities: Cinema and Urban Space
by Stephen Barber
Barber’s tone has a kind of eulogising conservatism about it, a remembrance of things past.
by Stephen Graham and Simon Marvin
In their final analysis, universalism is disregarded as a failed Modernist project.
Two reviews of Down the Tubes by Christian Wolmar
From The Politico:
From Fabian Review: