Histories of the Future

Princeton's annual History of Science workshop (February 2015) explored the history of science fiction and speculative non-fiction in the natural and human sciences. 


How Do We Make the Future?

In conjunction with the workshop, we created an open-access website that explores the question of how futures are made in a world of scientific and technological innovation. Historians of science, technology, and medicine--who are constantly wrestling with time, innovation, and change as historical challenges--are uniquely situated to talk about these futures. Our essays illustrate the variety of ways by which scientists and authors of speculative fiction alike have sought to define the future: HISTSCIFI.COM.

Erika Milam and Joanna Radin (co-editors), Fred Gibbs (designer)



FRÉDÉRIQUE AÏT-TOUATI, "Seeing From Afar" [link]

RUHA BENJAMIN, "Black to the Future: Rethinking Race, Science, and Objectivity" [link]

STEPHANIE DICK, "The Future of Thinking: Computers and Minds in mid-Twentieth Century Computing" [link]

OLIVER GAYCKEN, "SuperVision: Images of the Technological Sublime" [link]

MICHAEL D. GORDIN, "What to Say After Nuclear War," Part 1. The Nuclear Novel and Language; Part 2. Universal Creole; Part 3. English's Atomic Mutants. [link]

NIKOLAI KREMENTSOV, "Between Science and Fiction," Part 1. Fedor Il'in's Valley of Life (1928); Part 2. Biotechnologies of the Future. [link]

PATRICK McCRAY, "Stay Frozen My Friends," Part 1. Many Are Cold, Few Are Frozen; Part 2. The Frozen Few. [link]

ERIKA LORRAINE MILAM, "Evolutionary Futures: ApeMan, Space Man" [link]

COLIN MILBURN, "Ahead of Time: Gerald Feinberg, James Blish, and the Governance of Futurity" [link]

PROJIT MUKHARJI, "Paranimate Science," Part 1. The Swarming Undead of the Raj; Part 2. Biomoral Animacies. [link]

MICHELLE MURPHY, "How Does Technoscience Dream?" Part 1. Speculating on the Future in Postcolonial Social Sciences; Part 2. Sultana's Dream; Part 3. Phantasmagrams of Population; Part 4. The Clock is Ticking. [link]

JOANNA RADIN, "Big Science Fiction," Part 1. Michael Crichton, Science Studies, and the Technothriller; Part 2. Virtually Authentic. [link]


Sincere thanks to the History of Science Program and Jackie Wasneski for funding and logistical support. Additional funds for the workshop and website were kindly provided by the David A. Gardner Class of '69 Magic Project and the Center for Collaborative History at Princeton University.