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Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future
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Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  826 ratings  ·  163 reviews
Hieroglyph-Inspired by New York Times bestselling author Neal Stephenson, an anthology of stories, set in the near future that reignites the iconic and optimistic visions of the golden age of science fiction. A remarkable anthology uniting twenty of today's leading thinkers, writers, and visionaries, among them Cory Doctorow, Gregory Benford, Elizabeth Bear, Bruce Sterling ...more
ebook, 560 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by William Morrow
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Darth J
Sep 29, 2014 is currently reading it
*Note: I'll be updating my review as I read each story.*

Atmosphæra Incognita by Neal Stephenson
3 stars
This story had a neat premise about engineering the first bar in space. While I like how the technical details add credibility to the story in terms of making it seem plausible, it really hurt the flow of the narrative. Toward the end, the tension of the situation was completely ruined by engineering specifications and jargon. I do take issue with regards to perpetuating the stereotype that lesb
Ed Finn
Aug 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You should know I edited this book, but that only adds depth and passion to the five-star rating. Seriously, it's awesome: full of great stories by amazing writers. Even better, it's part of a remarkable ongoing experiment in collective imagination:
Sep 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
A few gems in the collection, but too many are just interesting ideas wrapped in preachy, paper-thin plots.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A varied, stimulating, generally satisfying anthology. Some of these futures I would love to claim as my own. Or work towards. I hope I already am. :)

A few words about each story that particularly captivated me (my foremost favorite is in bold):
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hieroglyph: Stories & Visions for a Better Future is an outgrowth of Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination. Since the project was inspired by a Neal Stephenson essay (one of my favorite authors), I figured it would be an enlightening and worthwhile collection of speculative fiction. And while that turned out to be partly true, I was surprised to find myself resisting many of the assumptions on which these stories are founded. Not unlike many modern notions of progress ...more
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lena by: Solarpunk
Shelves: anthology, solarpunk
Atmosphæra Incognita by Neal Stephenson ★★★★☆
“There was carping on the Internet but the journalists and businesspeople who rode the helirail up to the top and sat at the bar taking in the black sky and the curvature of the earth—well, none of them doubted.”
Strong start with beautiful imagery. A vertical city touching space and future gateway to the stars. A ground-level legacy of green fields, prairie dogs, and bison.

Girl In Wave: Wave In Girl by Kathleen Ann Goonan ★★★★★
“Unlike earlier chi
Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014, sci-fi
Back in 2011, a chance encounter between Michael Crow and Neal Stephenson lead to a discussion about who was to blame for the sorry state of our collective imaginations: the best minds of our generation who spend their time design spam filters and social media apps, or science fiction writers who churn out endless dystopias and apocalypses. From this chance encounter was born the Center for Science and Imagination and Project Hieroglyph, with the goal of bringing scientist fiction writers in con ...more
May 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The is an interesting piece of work - not only for its contents but also for the principle of the book itself. The book is basically a series of short science fiction stories. The subjects of which vary from piece to piece. Now in its own right this is nothing special - the stories are all creative, varied, well written and interesting to read in their own right - however on their own they are nothing different that several months worth of say the Locus magazine (which in its own right is a bril ...more
Aug 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Nnothing less than great top shelf stories. I would say that this is the best collection of SF short stories since Dangerous Visions. And hopefully it does for science what DV did for SF.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Sadly underwhelmed. Boring on audiobook. Ideas weren't very inspiring. "Covenant" remains the only story I really enjoyed.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: anthologies, sf
I love, love, love the goal of this anthology. I'm always looking for SF that posits positive futures. I really enjoyed the Elizabeth Bear story, the Vandana Singh novella, and the Cory Doctorow. The Doctorow was a bit didactic - characters "as you know, Bob," each other all over the place - but it's also sweet and a fun read.
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contributed-to
Full disclosure: I have a story in the anthology called "Johnny Appledrone vs. the FAA," but it's also still totally worth checking out.
This was not what I expected. According to the introduction and the book flap it was supposed to be stories where the writers worked with the scientists to create stories that are inspiring, have cutting edge ideas and also explore ethical and social issues at the same time. I did find a couple of them to be inspiring, but only a couple. Several of them were pretty depressing, more dystopian than inspiring. A couple were kind of silly, or too outrageous to be in a book that was supposed to be ba ...more
Dec 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hopeful monsters
Recommended to Alan by: An all-star cast
I am totally on board with Neal Stephenson's Hieroglyph project. I've often bemoaned the scarcity of optimistic science fiction myself, amid the proliferation (not so recent now) of dystopias and apocalypses and cautionary tales—those were always a strong component of SF, to be sure, going back to Frankenstein, but the dark clouds really seemed to start rolling in with the New Wave of the 1960s, an unhappy climate change that has only intensified in the 21st Century. But, even though I endorse t ...more
At some point I heard that Cory Doctorow's short story, The Man Who Sold the Moon had won the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, a pretty significant prize. What I don't remember is why I thought that meant it was worth tracking down (I don't make a point of hunting down most award-winning fiction), but I'm glad I did.

Of the four stories which I actually read within this fat tome, it was the one that made it worthwhile.

Now, I wanna say: the reason I'm abandoning this book is simply lack of time.
Mar 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to James by: Jim
Shelves: sf, fiction
This is an attempt to bring back old school bang-zowie wonder science fiction of the big idea variety. Luckily it mostly fails except for one or two preachy stories with cardboard characters and a bad 60's feel. ASU sponsored this book, hence a really crappy preface and ASU student fan art (nostalgic! SF mostly had bad art thru the 60's). They did hire real editors and writers so it's a decent shorts collection, but not a knockout.

The preface by Lawrence M. Krauss is so obnoxious I have to vent
Christopher Hellstrom
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a great collection. I was interested because it was inspired by Neal Stephenson (and includes the story "Atmosphæra Incognita") However I enjoyed most of the other stories as well. There are engaging realistic stories like "A Hotel in Antarctica" by Geoffrey Landi and wild speculation like David Brin's "Transition Generation"

I don't agree with some critics who think that having a didactic component to art devalues the work. Star Trek certainly inspired many people to learn about science
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a book of short stories born of Project Hieroglyph:

This is seriously one of the most exciting things I've heard about in quite awhile. A bunch of sci-fi authors and a bunch of scientists are getting together and saying "We're sick of these dystopias that have become so popular! Let's look for ways the world could be made a better place in the near term!" This is a big part of what sci-fi is all about, to me.

Digging down into the individual stories in the book: s
Edgar Guedez
Stories and visions for a worst future?

The title states that these are "stories and visions for a better future". However, some of the stories show a dystopian future and dysfunctional world. Cory Doctorow's " The man who sold the moon" is more about a relationship of two friends, one who is dying of cancer, than the development of robotic 3D printers technology. And the setting is chaotic. Konstantinou's "Johnny Appledrone vs the FAA" shows a chaotic development of drone and networking technolo
Charles Dee Mitchell
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary-sf
Full of good stories but probably destined to be known for the expanded program it is a part of. You can spend many extra hours following up the speculations int the stories by going to the hieroglyph project website, reading essays, interviews, and source material. it will be interesting to see if this becomes a prototype for other projects, or if it remains a stand alone effort.
Alex Trembath
Sep 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stories are hit or miss, as with most anthologies, but the intro is spectacular and the mission statement sublime. Sci-fi that is optimistic, adventurous, yet grounded in the not-to-distant future. What a concept.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it liked it
I really liked the concept behind this collection but I only liked 3 or 4 of the stories.
Shhhhh Ahhhhh
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Some of the best science fiction I've ever read. No swashbuckling space pirates. No space merchants. No space marines. No quantum time jumps.

Regular people that exist right now (regular in terms of lifestyle, body modification, etc) facing the extraordinary implications of near-future technology.

Some especially interesting ideas there was the story about the social and political technologies, plus the predictive power of big data and conveying the information via Dorians. I know for a fact all
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Hieroglyph is a collection of stories meant to show better futures. "...if we want to create a better future, we need to start with better dreams. Big dreams—infectious, inclusive, optimistic dreams—are the vital first step to catalyzing real change in the world." There were a few stories that were very negative and depressing and didn't seem to fit the theme, but I'm happy to say that most of the stories did succeed in showing better futures.

Individual ratings are below. As usual, I'm using sp
As a techno-optimist (and SF writer) myself, with a strong distaste for dystopias, I was keen to read this volume of stories which started out with the premise of writing about a future that was in some way better than the present.

It's hard to make utopias interesting (not that these are really utopias). It's hard to make hard SF interesting, what with the strong temptation to idiot lectures and observer protagonists. These authors don't always succeed at these difficult tasks; nor do all of th
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
The stories in this book do a fair-to-excellent job of their stated goal: to envision futures in which science and technology have improved the world, instead of destroying it. It's Project Hieroglyph's view that dystopian fiction has become distressingly common and unthinking, and that science fiction is abdicating one of its goals: to inspire beneficial innovation.

As a voracious SF reader in my youth, I have a lot of sympathy for that goal, and for that reading of the problems of modern SF. Th
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I freely admit that this book rubbed me the wrong way from the very beginning, and it never got back in my good graces after that.

The first comment I have to make is that Neal Stephenson is a successful author who also takes money from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company. He lives (presumably by choice) in Seattle, which is a really lovely city with great public infrastructure. He probably does not spend much time worrying about where his next meal is coming from, whether he'll have a place to live
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
An interesting basis for an anthology, and some of the ideas explored are genuinely fascinating, but none of the stories are much good as stories. A few are downright unfinishable, like Geoffrey Landis's "A Hotel in Antarctica", a dull-as-spit techbro wish-fulfillment fantasy about a dude who fails up because another, richer dude believes in his potential (*insert eye-roll + wanking motion here*).

Bruce Sterling's offering, "Tall Tower" is even worse, trying to pass off his bizarrely outdated, fr
Oliver Brackenbury
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A great follow-up to Neal Stephenson's speech from a few years back (, I highly recommend this strong step towards breathing some life back into the genre of science fiction. There are a couple of stories which don't feel like they are close enough to the driving concept of the anthology to really be there, but the majority of the stories more than compensate. My personal favourite was "Degrees of Freedom", by Karl Schroeder, which explores possible solutions for the s ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
I went into this really wanting to like it, but many of the stories just didn't do it for me.

I loved "The Day It All Ended" and also really liked "Degrees of Freedom" and "Covenant." "Girl in Wave: Wave in Girl" was also good. These stories raised thought-provoking questions about the relationship between technology and society and technology and the individual, questioning its uses an potential abuses. I felt that they explored the moral implications and socially transformative potential of te
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Not exactly "by Neal Stephenson" 3 27 Sep 09, 2014 04:32AM  

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Ed Finn is Founding Director of the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University, where he is also Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Arts, Media, and Engineering and the Department of English.

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