Note — May 29, 2022

Polytopias: The Missing Speculative Genre

Yes, another ‘topia,’ another way of framing potential futures, this one by Leah Zaidi. It’s a good one though, because instead of just planting a stake in the sand with a new name attached, she proposes polytopias as a way of emphasising the importance of multiple futures, populating the spectrum of ideas between dystopias and utopias, and suggests putting the emphasis on the process of change on the way to something, instead of just as endpoints. Tiny signal; second mention in as many days of the series Years and Years, which does look interesting.

We’re a minute to midnight and stories are a powerful weapon in combating real-world struggles. When moral lessons are embedded in stories, they can bypass the brain’s fight and flight response. Rather than reject the lesson, we lean into it. […]

They are stories that depict many people, many places, at many times. They demonstrate the incremental steps required to shift a system and how those systems interact with people along the way. Polytopias aim to capture the complexity and nuances of change itself. […]

While there are a number of examples of deteriorating worlds, there are far fewer examples of what it takes to build desirable worlds.