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Imagined FuturesWriting, Science, and Modernity in the To-Day and To-Morrow Book Series, 1923-31$
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Max Saunders

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198829454

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198829454.001.0001

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(p.337) Conclusion
Imagined Futures

Max Saunders

Oxford University Press

This steps back from the series in two respects. First, it assesses its broader reception, looking at its sales as well as reviews. It considers why it ended when it did. And it considers why it is not better known. It then assesses the significance of the project. Taking issue with Paul Saint-Amour’s study of interwar literature, Tense Future, it argues that the series’ futurological orientation offered a means of keeping a utopian hope alive in the face of anxiety about future catastrophe. It draws on Saint-Amour’s taxonomy of ‘critical futurities’, which assembles three currents of thought: ‘nuclear criticism, queer temporalities scholarship, and work that strives to re-emplot or reactivate futures past’. I argue that while the series most obviously falls into the third category, it also anticipates the others. This is demonstrated via a discussion of Haldane’s imagination of global annihilation, and the non-normative temporalities of a number of the volumes. A contrast with the 1999 collection Predictions reveals To-Day and To-Morrow’s success in anticipating future futurology. Ultimately, the series is posed as not merely offering some of the best writing on the individual topics, but as offering, collectively, a major documentation of how the interwar period thought about time, modernity, life, art and science. In doing so, it transforms our sense of modernism and modernity.

Keywords:   reception, futurology, utopia, prediction, modernism, modernity, Saint-Amour, consilience

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