The Futurist: A Novel
James P. Othmer
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The Futurist: A Novel

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  64 reviews
"Yates is a Futurist. Which is to say he makes a very good living flying around the world dispensing premonitory wisdom, aka prepackaged bullshit, to world governments, corporations, and global leadership conferences. He is an optimist by trade and a cynic by choice. He's the kind of man who can give a lecture on successive days to a leading pesticide manufacturer and the...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 6th 2006 by Doubleday (first published 2006)
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This is not a book I would normally pick up so I'm thankful for the wonderful book group (fiction files redux here on goodreads) that I belong to that introduced me to Mr. James P. Othmer. What I liked the most about this book was the main character Yates. I have nothing in common with him and yet I related to him completely. I loved the way he dealt with wacky situations, I loved how he thought, how he felt, and how after his epiphany he called himself on the bullshit: others' and his own. This...more
I read this book and it is very good: the writing is very crisp and clean, but a bit distant, the main character is cynical but have a bit of a good heart to acknowledge that. After reading that, I wished that I had applied to the Futurist position so I could have been a sell out at a higher price with the best perks after college.

If you want to know more about this book, check out my review at
Mar 24, 2008 Andy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Cory Doctorow's books
Amusing at times, but a little too self-aware and sarcastically hip to be a truly satisfying read.
Boris Trucco
It feels as a socio-political essay in the form of a novel, or as a novel in the form of a socio-political essay. Yates, the conferencist who has made a successful business of anticipating the future which is essentially tailor-made for the establishment, finds himself suffering from self-disappointment. In his quest for redemption, Yates will try to be true to himself only to find out that he cannot escape his tragic mission, to be at the service of the dark side of corporate America. Yates' od...more
To use the old cliché, this book had me laughing out loud. Yates, the cynical protagonist in this fast moving book, took me on a hilarious ride around the world selling bullshit to countries that could have just used the bull and not the shit. I’m not a cynic, though I ‘m cynical (yeah, right) so I appreciated the humor in this book.

I swear that I’ve met most of the characters in The Futurist, except for Magga, and frankly she scared me. I loved Jeremy, the AWOL from the Peace Corps boy and the...more
Todd Sattersten
I loved this excerpt from The Futurist (page 188-190):

There was a time when he believed. And not just because he wanted to believe, but because he really did believe. There was a time when he truly thought that things were always getting better, that the world was a remarkable place where fascinating things happened, every second. He believed that science had a heart, that progress had a conscience, and that true art happened in the last synapse before epiphany, in the unstoppable momentum of an...more
The Futurist is, oddly enough, about a man who makes his living as a futurist. In other words, someone who analyzes trends and predicts the future. After giving what should be a career ending speech exposing himself as a fraud, he is recruited by a secret government agency to find out what the rest of the world thinks about Americans. Of course, things spiral out of control and he finds himself pursued by Johnson and Johnson (agency men), Nostradamus and assorted other strange characters who hav...more
What a depressing read this was. I was intrigued by the blurbs on the cover and was hoping for an interesting story about a complex character. I was wrong.

This book felt like a bizarre hybrid of "Jerry Maguire" and those Dos Equis "Most Interesting Man in the World" commercials with the wanna be Castro guy. It's like Jerry Maguire in that the story centers on a supposed "superstar" in a prestigious field who has a crisis of conscience and renounces what made him rich. Of course, this only serves...more
At first glance, this was a book that should have been right up my alley. A guy gets sick of the BS he gets paid to feed corporate gatherings, and turns on them. As a result, he seems to be more popular than ever. He's a geek, always encouraging companies to take the next step forward in propelling the bleeding edge.
But frankly, the guy just wasn't likeable. He comes off as a smartass who spouts off one-liners and bull like it was nothing, but has no redeeming qualities that make you want to ro...more
Aug 16, 2008 Nick rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like big ideas
The Futurist was an enjoyable action thriller that weaves in technology, globalization, and the pithy philosophies of the 21st century.

This 2 day read reminded me of the DaVinci Code in that its an action adventure that has stops along the way where, through dialogue, the characters seem to almost lecture the reader on a topic of interest. Except in this book the topic is global tech philosophy instead of Christian arcana. And this book is actually good.

The authors bio very much mirrors the ma...more
This novel is all about a globetrotting "futurist" named Yates, who journeys from conference to conference dispensing whatever prognostications his corporate sponsors require to stimulate their local economies and. He tries to sabotage his career by, for once, telling the truth, and, of course, this sends his "career" in a whole new direction that provides the framework for the book.

Snappy, contemporary writing...most of it worked for me, though too much of the story was over the top and some of...more
This book was kind of disappointing, ultimately, but I definitely did enjoy the first 2/3 of it. The main character is a speaker who travels the world talking about all the great things that are just about to happen for the companies that are his clients. But he has lost faith in his work and feels aimless and confused. He gets a strange offer from a mysterious consortium that wants him to work for them, but he's not sure he's interested.

There's a lot of amusing satire about modern marketing and...more
This is one of the funniest novels I've read in a long, long time. It's difficult to believe this was Othmer's first novel, and I can't wait for his next one.

The Futurist is loaded with fabulous pop culture references and humorous digs at politics, advertising and pop culture itself. At times you forget it's fiction because the plot is so realistic given today's cultural climate. The novel is especially fun given that Othmer is a refuge from the advertising agency world and I'm in a similar fiel...more
Yates is a Futurist. Which is to say he makes a very good living flying around the world dispensing premonitory wisdom, aka prepackaged bull, to world governments, corporations, and global leadership conferences. He is an optimist by trade and a cynic by choice. He's the kind of man who can give a lecture on successive days to a leading pesticide manufacturer and the Organic Farmers of America, and receive standing ovations at both.

Listen to The Futurist on your smartphone, notebook or desktop c...more
I read Othmer's Adland, his memoir of being in the ad business. It was hilarious, so I wanted to read his fiction, hoping to find the same sense of humor gracing the pages. The Futurist was disappointing in that regard. It's a good beach read, fast-paced, and his descriptions of things like flying at the speed of sound in a airforce jet are quite excellent. Still, this story is written too much like it's preparation for a film script, which I found annoying. Indeed, it would make a much better m...more
Pretty fair assessment (at least from my standpoint of a web developer living in San Francisco, which isn't saying much) of what it's like living on the purported forefront of technology and Western culture. If you know people like our protagonist Yates or those that move in his circles, this tale will feel familiar and--if you haven't clued in to the ridiculousness of it--damning.

The ending feels kind of rushed, containing action-for-action's-sake (as compared to earlier action which drives the...more
This book was chosen for a book club and it’s not something I would have picked out. At first glance, I didn’t think I’d like it. After reading it I know I was right. Hated it! The main character was not likable. He comes off as a cynical smartass that has no redeeming qualities that make you want to root for him. Some of the book was entertaining enough to keep me reading it. I liked the interesting and bizarre people he met up with. The plot lost it’s humor and became too much – wouldn’t reall...more
Im in PR so this hits home. A story about a bull-shitter who lives the high life, until he doesnt.
A somewhat entertaining book about a once-dedicated, but now entirely phony, corporate schill having a crisis of conscience. His attempts to sabotage his career and associations with an unidentified government agency create some humorous situations. However, the potential was there for a much more insightful and enjoyable story. Instead,as is the trend these days, it ended up a commentary on Iraq and the Neocon ideology.
Easy read, slightly horrifying- is it a true story? My guess is it's somebody's true story. Many people's true story- everyone's true story? Wake up. A little- expected that Yates becomes infatuated with items from the past. The older the better. Think of it as a subway read, a plane trip read. Bring another book. It goes by quickly. It seems that the author wrote it thinking it would be converted to a movie.
Pretty fun book. Ruminations on the level of bullshittery currently extant in today's mediasphere. Love the ideas presented about futurism, the nature of buzz, and all the weird esoteric marketing stuff that contributes to this immense head-cloud of spin and PR. I think the narrative goes a little off the rails towards the end, but it's enjoyable and short enough to plow on through pretty quickly.
Suzana Vuksanovic
A very interesting book.
If you count yourself as a true reader, you will read this.
It so much counts the ineptitude, arbitrariness, and sheer popularity of fashionable ideas that if you are a free-thinker whatsoever, you would be wary of it at the very least. Wary of what? The ideas ofcourse! lol
It is a good book - please read it. I have nothing more to add.
Joshua Panik
About a man who's job is to speak to groups about where the world is headed, he has a revelation about his life and realizes that being a futurist is a waste of time and a lie. After finally telling the truth during a major speech, he believes he will be cut off from the community, but instead is praised and recruited for a special assignment that gets him in trouble.
Nov 30, 2008 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is NOT a literary snob
Recommended to Michael by: Nick
A stylish action thriller and very entertaining read. A buddy likened it to the DaVinci Code but instead of focusing on arcane Christian sects, the book looks at the post 9/11 cultural and political zeitgeist. If you can in with the right expectations (ie. don't expect any serious literary awards), you will come away thoroughly entertained.
This is a very cynical book with lots of dark humor. Although clearly fictional, the author's experience in the world of advertising has left him with a very interesting perspective about how big business and government collaborate in the global marketplace. I found it very entertaining, kind of depressing, and hard to put down.
A futurist (one who predicts future trends) has a personal & career crisis after years of increasingly selling his services by telling people what they want to hear. He gets caught up in a mysterious, dangerous assignment that brings everything to a head. It's mildly amusing & otherwise OK, but nothing to get excited about.
This book was OK. Honestly, it didn't do anything for me. I didn't care about the characters or anything else. I kept waiting for some big mystery to unfold, and nothing ever did. I did like reading about the various places the characters traveled. It made me want to get out see more of the world.
A self-aware, self-parody of trendy thinkers and insight people by a creative director in ad agency. It's every bit as maddening and ironically self-important as I expected, but it's pretty damn funny and the guy can build up a good head of steam. If you're in the biz, definitely read it.
The Futurist isn't about the future, it's a witty and sometimes biting satire on some of the absurdities of our culture today. Othmer is a talented first time writer, and this is a book that manages to pepper it's cynicism with hilarity. It's a fresh, in-your-face, creative novel.
Jeff Raymond
The main character is a "futurist," who speaks to various leaders and organizations and essentially tells them what they want to hear, until he cracks. Great setup, but I don't feel like it went anywhere and I have no clue what the purpose of the book was to begin with. Kind of a shame.
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Author of the novels THE FUTURIST and HOLY WATER and the nonfiction advertising memoir ADLAND: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet. Also, writing as James Conway, the author of the financial thriller THE LAST TRADE.
More about James P. Othmer...
Adland: Searching for the Meaning of Life on a Branded Planet Holy Water O Visionário L'uomo Che Vendeva Il Futuro

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