04/30/2021

An Illustrated Exploration Of Hypothetical Futures

17:19 minutes

two comic panels of astronauts on the moon. the left panel shows two astronauts on a moon buggy driving fast on the lunar surface towards a moon settlement, the comic bubble reads "some of the bad parts of life on earth still manage to make their way up here." the right panel shows an astronaut with a cracked visor and their hand on top of their head. the earth is behind them. the panel bubble reads "but i believe i can do my part to help create a fair and just system. for the people of the moon and beyond and for the generations who follow us..."
A panel from Moon Court by Maki Naro, from Rose Eveleth’s “Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible

Futurist and Flash Forward host Rose Eveleth spends her time asking a lot of ‘what if’ questions, and then exploring the answers with experts. For example, what if human light sources forever drowned out our dark night sky? What if we relocated endangered species to save them from climate change? What if, as she asked in 2018, we saw a deadly pandemic consume the globe?

With a new book that illustrates even more hypothetical futures, she poses even more far-reaching questions: What if we could change our gender like our hair color? What if we could live on as robots after our death? What if we had to pirate the basic pharmaceuticals, like insulin, that keep so many alive? 

Eveleth sits down with SciFri’s John Dankosky to explore the nuances of imagining possible futures, whose choices influence what may actually happen, and why this work matters, even when she gets it wrong. Plus, what was predictable—and what was not—about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Read an excerpt of the illustrated guide, about what justice might look like in space.


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Segment Guests

Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is host and producer of the podcast Flash Forward, and author of Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (And Not So Possible) Tomorrows (Abrams Comic Arts, 2021). She’s based in Berkeley, California.

Segment Transcript

The transcript for this segment is being processed. It will be posted within one week after the episode airs.

Meet the Producers and Host

About John Dankosky

John Dankosky works with the radio team to create our weekly show, and is helping to build our State of Science Reporting Network. He’s also been a long-time guest host on Science Friday. He and his wife have four cats, thousands of bees, and a yoga studio in the sleepy Northwest hills of Connecticut. 

About Christie Taylor

Christie Taylor is a producer for Science Friday. Her day involves diligent research, too many phone calls for an introvert, and asking scientists if they have any audio of that narwhal heartbeat.

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