From the author of The Power, a bracing new dystopian novel about a near-future riven by inequality and climate change.
Good to know
When Martha Einkorn fled her father’s isolated compound in Oregon, she never expected to find herself working for a powerful social media mogul hell-bent on controlling everything. Now, she’s surrounded by mega-rich companies designing private weather, predictive analytics, and covert weaponry, while spouting technological prophecy. Martha may have left the cult, but if the apocalyptic warnings in her father’s fox and rabbit sermon—once a parable to her—are starting to come true, how much future is actually left?
Across the world, in a mall in Singapore, Lai Zhen, an internet-famous survivalist, flees from an assassin. She’s cornered, desperate and—worst of all—might die without ever knowing what's going on. Suddenly, a remarkable piece of software appears on her phone telling her exactly how to escape. Who made it? What is it really for? And if those behind it can save her from danger, what do they want from her, and what else do they know about the future?
Martha and Zhen’s worlds are about to collide. An explosive chain of events is set in motion. While a few billionaires assured of their own safety lead the world to destruction, Martha’s relentless drive and Zhen’s insatiable curiosity could lead to something beautiful or the cataclysmic end of civilization.
NORTH CALIFORNIA, NOVEMBER
Action Now! Ecological Convention
On the day the world ended, Lenk Sketlish—CEO and founder of the Fantail social network—sat at dawn beneath the redwoods in a designated location of natural beauty and attempted to inhale from his navel.
The tops of the mountains in the distance were capped with snow, their curves and crevasses kindling the imagination. The trees near at hand were russet on fawn, gray-green on sage. The redwood trunks were solid, corded, patterned like twisted vines, their surfaces soft with mosses and growing grass; tiny insects whirred through the dense mass. The sky was the pale water-washed blue of the late fall, mottled cloud visible through the spiral-set branches. And yet.
The meditation teacher had a nose whistle.
Each time she took yet another “deep belly breath,” the whine cut through the gentle whisper of the redwoods like a chain saw. She must hear it. She surely heard it. She did not seem to hear it. The redwoods shivered, the November leaves were about to drop, and all things must pass, as she could not cease reminding him.
All things were not going to pass from Lenk Sketlish if he had anything to do with it.
“Let your belly be soft as you inhale,” the teacher said. Her tongue lingered on the double l in “belly,” as if she were Italian. She wasn’t Italian. Lenk had asked Martha Einkorn, his executive assistant, to check after the first day. The meditation instructor came from Wisconsin, the home of squeaky cheese. She kept saying “belly.” He should hold light in his belly, feel the warmth in his belly, crawl inside his own belly, and dwell forever in her adenoidal whine and her infinitely elongated l. What was growing inside Lenk Sketlish’s belly was an acidic roiling, churning wrath.
The redwoods. Back to the redwoods. The majesty of nature, simple beauty. The worn path up the hillside, the tumbling brook. Breathing in, breathing out. The world as it comes moment by moment and he, too, a part of it. Not scattered, not wrathful, not thinking of the Fantail expansion deals in Uruguay and in Myanmar even though someone was definitely going to fuck something up in his absence.
Why I love it
BOTM Editorial Team
Do you love thinking about the end of the world? Me neither. I do, however, love an ambitious book that is as engrossing as it is intelligent. Cue The Future: a thrilling dystopian novel with enough twists to grip even those of us actively working not to think about potential planetary doom.
In a near-future dystopian world, three tech billionaires effectively control the economy and wield immense political power. They manipulate data, dictate the news, and exploit natural resources while secretly preparing for the global catastrophe they are instigating, leaving society none the wiser.
After receiving individual apocalyptic warnings, they calmly evacuate to their respective bunkers to wait out the nearing cataclysm. But then our focus shifts to the struggling 99%. We meet refugee-turned-survivalist-influencer Lai Zhen and executive assistant Martha Einkorn as they face the end of the world and grapple with questions of how far they would go to save it. Weaving big ideas with resonant real-world issues, we are taken on a wild ride through everything from online doomsday prepping forums to the Book of Genesis.
Naomi Alderman’s storytelling is a captivating blend of the fantastical and eerily prescient, gripping from the opening line to the last page. The Future is a must-read for those who appreciate well-crafted, thought-provoking fiction with a distinct view of the world.
Member ratings (310)
I had all the expectations of a Naomi Alderman book and that was it and she still BLEW MY MIND. Absolutely brilliant and also unexpectedly validating. I loved the POVs and how they were used.
Beach Haven, NJ
I actually felt that this was much smoother and easier to read than The Power. I loved this book and the transition between characters. I loved the power but I found this book even better.
Really fun read, a bit of a wild ride. The timeline could be hard to keep track of, though I think that was also on purpose, and I think the end could have been a bit clearer.
One of my top 2023 reads. This was FUN. And smart. Like an episode of Black Mirror but with extra heart. Will now read everything by this author.
This was incredible- engrossing a statement on our current times. This will sit with me for a long time.