Future Tense Newsletter: Read a New Future Tense Fiction Story From Maureen McHugh

Illustration from Maureen McHugh's Future Tense Fiction story "The Starfish Girl."
Doris Liou

Greetings, Future Tensers,

This week, we published “The Starfish Girl,” the first installment in our Future Tense Fiction series on sport. In it, Maureen McHugh brings us the story of Jinky Mendoza, an American gymnast and Olympic hopeful who suffers a paralyzing spine fracture. Mendoza recovers with the help of a “radical new medical procedure”: allowing doctors to insert starfish DNA into her cells. Though the invertebrate’s genes help her body repair its own limbs and return to the arena, the procedure raises questions from the International Olympic Committee. Did the therapy give her an unfair—and inhuman—competitive advantage? Should she be allowed to compete? In a response essay, sports historian and former professional athlete Victoria Jackson weighs in on the enormous moral authority we give sports officials who answer these sorts of questions. (Spoiler: They don’t always keep the science—or what’s fair for all competitors—in mind.)

Lately, Facebook too has been struggling with its moral authority in deciding whom it will and won’t include on its powerful platform. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg sparked criticism when he said Holocaust deniers don’t necessarily need to be removed from Facebook because he doesn’t think that “they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” But as Johannes Breit, a moderator for the popular AskHistorians subreddit, argues, Holocaust deniers don’t just inadvertently “get things wrong.” Instead, they intentionally “distort, minimize, or outright deny historical facts” in an effort to normalize Nazi ideas. This behavior led the mods of AskHistorians to institute an outright ban on racism, anti-Semitism, and Nazism in the forum. And, Breit writes, Facebook should follow suit.

Other things we read while a flash flood warning interrupted our Netflix and chill:

Exonerating the internet: A new study indicates that TV may have played a bigger role in electing Trump than the internet did, Will Oremus explains.

Vulnerable votes: House Republicans’ recent refusal to give states funding to secure their election systems is “akin to leaving a giant security hole in the electrical grid,” April Glaser writes.

Whack-a-mole antitrust: Though the EU may have hit Google with a record-breaking $5 billion fine last week, Dipayan Ghosh argues that by focusing on one big player, it overlooks industrywide practices that harm consumers.

Captive markets: In prisons, private companies selling digital goods like music, tablets, and video calls to incarcerated people are greeted with huge potential markets and little regulation.

Crippling cyberattacks: The U.S. intelligence chief recently warned about the growing threat of a “crippling cyberattack on our critical infrastructure.” Josephine Wolff breaks down what his warning means.


Join Julia Turner, Slate’s editor in chief, for the latest installment of our “My Favorite Movie” series. She’ll be hosting a free screening of Network at D.C.’s Landmark Theatres E Street Cinema tonight, Wednesday, July 25, at 6:30 p.m. RSVP here.

Toiling in obscurity,

Mia Armstrong

For Future Tense

Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University.