Future Tense Newsletter: Beyond Cyberpunk

A cyberpunk wannabe.
Getty Images Plus

Within science fiction today, we’ve got a veritable feast of subgenres and microgenres. No longer, for example, do we just have cyberpunk: There’s now steampunk, biopunk, nanopunk, stonepunk, clockpunk, rococopunk, raypunk, nowpunk, atompunk, mannerpunk, salvagepunk, Trumppunk, solarpunk, sharkpunk, and even hopepunk. But, as Lee Konstantinou argues, despite the myriad new offerings, the niches seem to still be caught up on the groundbreaking ideas that the original cyberpunk movement of the 1980s defined. He examines the origins of cyberpunk and how, as much as we’d like to think we’re living in the future, “if we’re still drawn to cyberpunk, that might be because 2019 is far more like 1982 than we’d care to admit.”

Elsewhere on Slate, we’ve been covering the reverberating effects of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Michelle Govani argues that we should shut down the national parks, as the long-term damage they are sustaining might be irreparable. Josephine Wolff reports on how the shutdown may have devastating effects on U.S. cybersecurity efforts at the Department of Homeland Security. And Aaron Mak explains what the halting of routine food inspections by the Food and Drug Administration means for our meals.

Other things we read between pondering about the edibility of flamingos:

Gesundheit: As more health care professionals use smartphones and tablets on the job, are they also spreading more germs? Studies show the devices of medical professionals are even nastier than those of people who don’t work in health care, and they could be putting patients at risk, as Melissa Jayne Kinsey explains.

Brace for impact: Steve Casner explains what the Miracle on the Hudson can teach us about rapid thinking in emergency situations.

Pushing our buttons: A German court ruled that Amazon Dash Buttons violate consumer-protection laws that require that shoppers should know the price they are paying in any transaction. Shannon Palus suggests consumers everywhere should be dropping the Dash Buttons, too.

Gatekeeping: Nina Jankowicz argues that Mark Zuckerberg’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad New Year’s resolution reads as another PR stunt meant to make users think Facebook is finally addressing its many missteps.

Dumb phones: In our most recent If Then episode, April Glaser and Will Oremus talk about the decline of the iPhone, the rise of shady institutions buying your phone location data, and what’s up and what’s down on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show.

Screen time: Shannon Palus looks at a new study that suggests smartphones aren’t inherently bad for teens’ mental health—and how it underscores the way we’ve oversimplified the questions we ask about screen time.


Join Future Tense at the Eighteenth Street Lounge in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23 for a happy hour conversation with Chris Molanphy of Slate, Cherie Hu of Billboard, Kevin Erickson of the Future of Music Coalition, and Elahe Izadi of the Washington Post to discuss how streaming is changing the music industry. You can RSVP here.

To trusting our smart speakers,

Anthony Nguyen

For Future Tense

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

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