2081 (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Gerard O’Neill’s latest book is, in many ways, a panegyric on gadgetry. 2081 is cast in four parts. The first deals with the problem of forecasting the future; the second is descriptive of five drivers of change; the third is a semifictional scenario of the year 2081; and the final section, “Wild Cards,” deals with some further speculations on what the far future may bring. O’Neill makes it clear from the outset that his prime values are freedom and peace; whether his imagined world of 2081 will be one such as to ensure the survival of these values is another question altogether.
O’Neill remarks in his first section that most “futurists” of the past overestimated the role of social and political change and underestimated the role of technology (Sir Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis of 1629 must surely stand as an exception). If O’Neill is thinking of current futurists then he may be partly correct. Still, the recent ferment caused, for example, by Islamic fundamentalism occasions second thoughts. At best one can say that science and technology are among the driving forces of the modern age. One would also have to count religion and politics among the drivers of change. If O’Neill is intending to generalize, and it is not clear whether he is, then he has surely misread history. The eminent historian of technology, Lynn White, Jr., has demonstrated conclusively that technology has certainly not always been a driving...
(The entire section is 2721 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Choice. LXII, September, 1981, p. 257.
Christian Science Monitor. LXXIII, July 22, 1981, p. 17.
Library Journal. CVI, May 15, 1981, p. 1090.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVI, May 3, 1981, p. 15.
Saturday Review. VIII, May, 1981, p. 73.
School Library Journal. XXVIII, December, 1981, p. 89.
Sky and Telescope. LXII, September, 1981, p. 257.
(The entire section is 41 words.)