“A show about possible and not so possible futures. From space pirates to conscious robots to the end of antibiotics.”
The genre of science fiction, though much maligned by folks in the Literary (with a capital L) world, has probably done more for humanity than almost any other creative pursuit. At least, in terms of actual, measurable progress that is. In fact, many famous inventors directly credit their love of sci-fi as the inspiration for the breakthrough technology they’re responsible for, from submarine inventor Simon Lake (inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), to Martin Cooper’s first cell phone (inspired by Star Trek), to all of the various projects being worked on by Elon Musk.
Flash Forward, hosted by Rose Eveleth, is podcasting’s answer to the continuation of the grand tradition of inspiration through science fiction. Attempting to gaze into the future, or flashing forward as the eponymous case may be, is a way to inform the present. It asks philosophical questions about the logical conclusions of the effects that a given piece of technology might have on the human race, and it forces us to consider those conclusions as either warnings or as beacons of hope. Or sometimes both.
Flash Forward tends to use humor to poke fun at the future. Though it asks serious questions, the answers it provides are often in the form of funny fictional dialogues or mini-plays. Nearly all of the questions are along the lines of “What would happen if…” What would happen if: humans could be gestated inside an artificial womb / bacteria out-evolves the effectiveness of antibiotics / scientists invent a true invisibility cloak?
I think Flash Forward is one of those podcasts with a great, even amazing, premise, but it often fails on the level of its execution. It just feels sloppy sometimes. It feels like they didn’t quite go the distance in considering the actual logical conclusion of an episode’s premise. It feels like they don’t always take it seriously. That said, I still enjoy the show, though I don’t listen to every episode. This is definitely more of a case-by-case listen.
Pretty good, as long as they work on execution.
About 30 minutes.
Overall Score: 6.7/10
- Revenge of the Germs
If you like this podcast, you’ll probably like:
- Science Vs.
- Note to Self