Read: "Communist Party": the first chapter of Walkaway

There's still time to pre-order your signed first-edition hardcover of Walkaway, my novel which comes out on April 25 (US/UK), and while you're waiting for that to ship, here's chapter one of the novel, "Communist Party" (this is read by Wil Wheaton on the audiobook, where he is joined by such readers as Amanda Palmer and Amber Benson!). Read the rest

Interlocking wood "bricks" that can assemble into a nail-and-glue-free house

In 1987, Skid Roper and Mojo Nixon posed the musical question: What happened to my Lincoln Logs? At last: an answer! Read the rest

In defense of left-wing space utopias

Brianna Rennix wants to know why the major current in "space utopianism" is right wing -- Elon Musk floating a "creepy private colony on Mars for ultra-rich survivalists who can shell out $200,000 for their spot" and punched Nazi Richard Spencer bloviating, "We weren’t put on this earth to be nice to minorities, or to be a multiculti fun nation. Why are we not exploring Jupiter at this moment? Why are we trying to equalize black and white test scores? I think our destiny is in the stars. Why aren’t we trying for the stars?" Read the rest

In the US and UK, retirement is only for the super-rich

Since the neoliberal reforms of the Reagan era; the rollback of trade unions; the elimination of defined-benefits pensions (in favor of "market-based" SIPPs and 401(k)s); the termination of national minimum wage increases and real earnings collapse for working people; the finance-industry fraud that stole so many working peoples' homes during and after the subprime bubble; the massive increases in healthcare costs, the possibility of retiring after 45 or 50 years in the workforce has been snuffed out for nearly everyone. Read the rest

Four Futures: using science fiction to challenge late stage capitalism and Thatcher's "no alternative"

Margaret Thatcher's 1979 declaration that "there is no alternative" to neoliberal capitalism is more than a rallying cry: it's a straitjacket on our imaginations, constraining our ability to imagine what kinds of other worlds we might live in. But in science fiction, alternatives to market economies abound (and a surprising number of them are awarded prestigious awards by the Libertarian Futurist Society!), and it is through these tales that sociologist Peter Frase asks us to think through four different ways things could go, in a slim, sprightly book called Four Futures -- a book that assures us that there is no more business as usual, and an alternative must be found.

As sewbots threaten Asia's sweatshops, we need to decide who will benefit from automation

A new International Labour Organization report called ASEAN in transformation: How technology is changing jobs and enterprises predicts that "sewbots" -- sewing robots that can piece together garments with little or no human intervention -- will replace up to 90% of garment and footwear workers in Cambodia and Vietnam in the years to come. Read the rest

After we make peace with robots doing all the work, will our lives have meaning?

Philosopher John Danaher's new paper "Will life be worth living in a world without work? Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life" assumes that after the robots take all our jobs, and after the economic justice of figuring out how to share the productivity games can be equitably shared among the robot-owning investor class and the robot-displaced 99%, there will still be a burning question: what will give our life meaning? Read the rest

Some future for you: the radical rise of hope in the UK

David "Utopia of Rules" Graeber (previously) is in magnificent full throat in a long essay in the Baffler about the long-overdue threat to UK's greatest export: security for the world's ultra-wealthy arising from the complete defeat of the working class. Read the rest