Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 274: How to Warn Future Humans of the Mess We’ve Made


This week we continue our Spring Forward season by discussing an essay by Matt Jones that first appeared in The New England Review and was then republished by The Lit Hub. The essay, titled How Can We Warn Future Humans of the Poison We Buried Underground?, is a kind of thought experiment brought on by an actual project, in which a team of thinkers was tasked with coming up with a way to communicate to future societies that we’d buried nuclear waste under a specific spot in the desert. The essay delves into various ways that futurists think of possible futures, and the inherent optimist in even imagining a future.

We also talk about what the future of food looked like to people in the middle part of the twentieth century, and atomic gardens, and Betty Crocker’s Recipe Card Library. You can read more on that last subject here, via the New York Times Magazine.

If you have suggestions for things we should check out this season, let us know! We’re not just interested in traditional science fiction, but any kind of writing that imagines a possible future (including those written long enough ago that their “futures” have already passed).

As always, you can stream the show right here on our site, or download the mp3 file to listen to later. Or check us out in Apple podcasts, where you can subscribe (for free!) and catch up on older episodes. We’re also available on Spotify, Stitcher, or just about any other podcast app. If for some reason you can’t find us in your favorite app, please reach out and let us know!

If you like the show, please consider subscribing to our Patreon, which helps us make a bit of money each month and keep the show going. For just $5 a month, you’ll get access to a monthly bonus episode, Book Fight After Dark, in which we visit some of the weirder, goofier corners of the literary world. Recently, that’s involved reading a paranormal romance novel, the debut novel of Jersey Shore’s Snookie, and the novelization of the movie Battleship (yes, based on the popular board game).

Thanks for listening!

Stream Episode 274:

Download Episode 274


Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

2 thoughts on “Episode 274: How to Warn Future Humans of the Mess We’ve Made

  1. I just read Brook Bolander’s “The Only Harmless Great Thing,” a very short novel that deals with the same topic. Also, radioactive elephants!

  2. you had me at radioactive elephants !

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