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CUNNING PLANS: Talks By Warren Ellis

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  641 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
CUNNING PLANS collects several of NYT-bestselling author Warren Ellis' lectures on the nature of the haunted future and the secrets of deep history, given in recent years at events in London, New York, Los Angeles and Berlin.
Kindle Edition, 52 pages
Published June 8th 2015 by SUMMON Books (first published June 1st 2015)
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Sam Quixote
Jul 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Cunning Plans is a short collection of talks Warren Ellis gave between 2011 and 2015 at various conferences around the world.

Ellis is best known as a comics writer whose work includes Transmetropolitan, Planetary, The Authority, Freakangels, and numerous books at Marvel and DC. A lot of his best work concerns futurism, history and technology, all of which are themes covered in the talks and delivered in an intelligent but accessible, and funny, way.

He talks about the perception of science fict
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, digital
A book made up of several transcribes of talks Warren Ellis has given. Think of it as him giving a TED talk and someone writing it down.

It's short, but very intellectually written and enjoyable. It mainly focuses on the discussion that science fiction does not predict the future, which has so often been regarded as a popular opinion.

A good read to have for journey somewhere.
Joel Neff
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who reads Morning.Computer on a regular basis.
Warren Ellis, particularly in his non-fiction mode, falls rather handily into the "grumpy uncle" category of writers. By which I mean, I don't always agree with what he says, but I love to hear him say it. His carefully constructed, self-depreciating, doused-in-strong-drink persona add an elegant, fun and funny frame to observations about the now.

Cunning Plans is a brief collection of such observations, essentially the print versions of talks Uncle Warren has given at various conferences over th
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Direct, intuitive and unapologetic, this is the closest you'll come to Warren Ellis Cliffs Notes. It still packs abrasive metaphors and a general sentiment that will make you hate humanity while secretly cheering its futures in which we'll all have sorcerer computers for endocrine systems or something.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it liked it
The collection of essays were a little uneven, but solid, enjoyable and as always delivered in the trademark Warren Ellis style.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nobody makes me as excited and fearful of the future as much as Warren Ellis. And bless him for that.

Full review forthcoming.


Warren Ellis is a writer of things.

These are things he has written about the future.

Warren writes a lot of things about the future.

I could read Warren's writing about the future for the rest of my life and never complain about it.

And that’s despite the fact that Ellis has the curious ability to make me both dread the future and to utterly welcome it with open arms. I
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting talks Ellis has given. Time, pop culture, what Silicon Valley needs to do bring on the future.
Jefferson Tesla
Feb 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-prose
Just updating my Goodreads, changing around my favorites. This one's the absolute best, folks. I know my love for post-2013 Warren Ellis is a more than a little cultish, but the old man just keeps getting cleverer and cleverer. He's managed to con himself into a great many futurist conventions just to tell them that they are shit magicians, and we, the reading public are invited into those rooms with the transcripts of those talks. Some notable quotables:

"Act like you live in the Science Fiction
Artur Coelho
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Creio que não consigo datar com precisão o momento em que me apercebi que venerava Warren Ellis. A coisa deu-se um pouco por acaso, ainda naqueles tempo pré-históricos em que a internet se acedia através de modems analógicos, a blogoesfera mais pura era uma colecção de texto e links, e comecei a seguir uma página escrita por ele. Daí passei aos comics, e fiquei irremediavelmente transfixo pela forma como a mente de Ellis digere tecnologia, futurismo e narrativas empolgantes de banda desenhada. F ...more
Grant Wamack
Sep 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have to preface this review by admitting I’m big fan of Warren Ellis in just about every way. His comic book work is amazing and innovative. He has hardly disappointed me except for his first novel Crooked Little Vein, but his batting average is pretty damn consistent. He came back ten times as hard with his second novel Gun Machine. I’ve been introduced to his some of his non-fiction work in the past thanks to some excellent essays online and his entertaining newsletter. So it’s no surprise t ...more
John Defrog
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This e-book collects transcripts of some of the talks that Ellis has given at various SF and futurist conferences over the past few years. Each one is an exploration of how science-fiction creators and fans should (or shouldn’t) be looking at The Future. Like a lot of his fictional work, it’s jam-packed with historical factoids, but in this case with the purpose of illustrating that you can’t understand the future without understanding both the past and the present. Ellis also makes the connecti ...more
Patrick O'Duffy
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
'The future is more than an Instagram filter.'

In addition to being bearded, grumpy and a comics writer, Warren Ellis does a remarkable number of conference keynote speeches.

This slim, cheap ebook collects a variety of Ellis' speeches - some short, some long, all smart, interesting and well-written. (There's some of Ellis' best writing here, in fact - it's a form that suits his pithy, snarky style.)

He talks mostly about futurism - technology, change, adaptation, pop music and things being terrib
Thom Dunn
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
An absolute must-read for anyone interested in history, in the future, in folkloric iconography, in the utter power of stories and imagination, and the intersections of all those things, how they come together to create a culture. Since this is a collection of different talks given by Warrwn over the past 5 years, there are a few ideas & conceits that repeat themselves across different essays — but it's still interesting to see how they grow, change, and stay in conversation with the other f ...more
Bill Childers
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brain drippings from Mr. Ellis

I am a Warren Ellis junkie. I subsist off the loose brain drippings he leaves as breadcrumbs, as he winds his way through spaces both cyber and meat.

Now that my confession is out of the way, I gotta say that this is a great collection of the thoughts of one of the most unique writers it's ever been my pleasure to read. If you're a fan of his writing, grab this for the buck he's asking for it, and enjoy a little of the man behind the curtain. I wish I had the opport
Jun 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2015, generalfiction
I'm a big fan of Warren Ellis' comics writing and was surprised to find that he seems to have reinvented himself as some kind of technological visionary. This ebook is a collection of various talks he gave over the last couple of years and they are not very good. I found the general tone very vague and meandering and my initial impression didn't improve when he repeatedly name dropped notable gasbags Bruce Sterling and Terence McKenna. I wish he'd stick to comic books and I can't for the life of ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
As always, Warren Ellis is at his most interesting when he thinks out loud. The pieces collected in this ebook aren't linked by any particular theme, and are of wildly varying links, but not a one of them is boring. And not one of them won't spark an idea that wakes you up just as you're on the cusp of sleep some time in the week after you read it, saying "Wait a minute!" to yourself, and either frantically scribbling down your latest inspiration or just as frantically hitting the interwebs to c ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I saw this book in a suggested reading list, and Ellis' background in comics and scifi (as well as the individuals review) sounded interesting enough that I grabbed it for a buck on my Kindle. -Excellent- investment. Warren Ellis sits you down and tells you a story of the familiar, and slowly walks you out to the edge and then past it. You only realize how far out you've gone when you notice that what -was- familiar begins to look so....alien.

Give it a shot, I'd bet that you won't regret it.

Colin Murtagh
Jun 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ellis is one of those writers who seem to have more ideas than they can get down in paper, so this is a collection of his ideas, most of which were given as lectures. A lot of which is on the idea of futurism, what the future looks like, and how we may get there.
As such there is no real thread running through the book, it's more stream of conciousness at some times as the thoughts just come flooding out.
I'm not sure I agree with him a lot of times, but that isn't really the point. The essays a
Bill Williams
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The slim volume titled Cunning Plans is a collection of speeches and talks given by noted author Warren Ellis. Culled from the back of his mind over a three year stretch, there are repeated themes and parallel tracks that lead from men long dead to the bleak boring world of tomorrow.

It's a nice little building block for anyone interested in speculative fiction or building a more entertaining world from the bones of the last one.
Michael Acovio
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a bit biased since I'm a fan of most of his comic work. That said, Ellis has a unique POV on technology that I appreciate in his speeches and essays. Even when I may disagree with him, I love how he puts forth his views. At 52 pages there's nothing in depth in here, but it is a great intro to this Futurist ideas about technology and it's relation to sociology (particularly folklore) in the past, present, and future.
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Short, Sweet, and Scathing

Warren Ellis' gives us his take on why the futurists' penchant for prediction is utter bullshit. He argues for an organic future that really cannot be predicted as seen time and time again. This book contains short snippets of his thoughts and speeches (at times repetitive but adds to pugnacity of the argument) at various sci-fi and tech conventions/conferences. I would recommend this to people familiar with Mr. Ellis! If not, tread wearily!
Feb 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable collection of Ellis' recent talks at various conferences (some of which can also be found on YouTube). There are a couple variations here on the idea of early modern metaphors of magic being carried forward into the internet age. Best not to make too much of that, but it makes for a very entertaining talk, and some of the connections Ellis makes are engaging. An easy recommendation for anyone who enjoys his fiction.
Márcio Moreira
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
"The central metaphor is magic. And perhaps magic seems an odd thing to bring up here, but magic and fiction are deeply entangled, and you are all now present at a séance for the future. We are summoning it into the present. It’s here right now. It’s in the room with us. We live in the future. We live in the Science Fiction Condition."

Que livro, que homem, que futuro ao mesmo tempo assustador e excitante
Ricardo Homsi
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lots of sarcastic observations on fleeting cultural tastes but a LOT of food for thought that's grounding, pulling for pause, especially on possible futures in store for our technophiliac age. The talk in which he interweaves tech and magic -- how the symbols and intentions of past human curiosity stay with us, represented in gadgets and the relationships we build through them -- is especially moving. Recommended for people who like to feed time to their brains.
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Short and sweet collection of talks Warren Ellis has given in the past few years. Well worth a buck to read his thoughts on magic and technology, but I foolishly expected more talk about the craft of writing. I'm not sure why, that's not what he sold the book as, but here we are. Still a quick good read, great for Ellis super-fans but inessential for the casual.
Jules Galette
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must read for Ellis fans

If you've ever enjoyed Warren Ellis' take on the times we live in, I highly recommend this essay collection. It's preachy at times, and overly referential as to almost be off-putting, but Ellis has a take on our society's acceleration towards banality and self-immolation that's somehow equal parts joyful as it is horrifying
Chuck Kechter
Oct 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Some excellent essays by Warren Ellis. I enjoyed them all, smiling, and nodding along often, laughing out loud (on a crowded plane) more than once.

Highly recommended - especially if you like your essays on the intersection of Futurism, technology, and magic - as told by a curmudgeonly British scribe that has forgotten more about what he's talking about than you'll ever know.
Yegwa Ukpo
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Only giving it five stars because I am both an Ellis super fan and firmly in the camp of people that generally agree with and are very interested in the sort of things he talks about in this.

Mileage will definitely vary depending on your views about the future, technology and speculative fiction/design. But then, what review isn't at least partly subjective anyway?
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
I've read a number of different things by Ellis, and this is probably one of my favorites. I appreciated its brevity and focus, and it was nice to get a distilled angle on several of the topics that crop up in his other works. For 99 cents, no complaints.
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Old white man with eight teeth and a tin cup of rain,telling the truth

Thoughtful, funny, little Molotov cocktails of bright ideas and incendiary anger. This book will make you want to think about the future again.
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Warren Ellis is the award-winning writer of graphic novels like TRANSMETROPOLITAN, FELL, MINISTRY OF SPACE and PLANETARY, and the author of the NYT-bestselling GUN MACHINE and the “underground classic” novel CROOKED LITTLE VEIN. The movie RED is based on his graphic novel of the same name, its sequel having been released in summer 2013. His graphic novel GLOBAL FREQUENCY is in development at Jerry ...more
More about Warren Ellis
“Act like you live in the Science Fiction Condition. Act like you can do magic and hold séances for the future and build a brightness control for the sky. Act like you live in a place where you could walk into space if you wanted. Think big. And then make it better.” 3 likes
“Aleister Crowley told a friend he could make any random fall over without touching them. To illustrate, he walked behind a stranger for a block or so, matching his footsteps precisely to the stranger’s. He then scuffed his heels, as if stumbling and falling. And the stranger fell over. The stranger had heard himself fall, and so he fell. If Facebook tells you that everything around you is sad and depressing often enough, you get sad and depressed. All hail the Great Beast 666 of black marketing.” 3 likes
More quotes…