Reading List

Emerging Futures: A Verso Bookshelf

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In this moment of wide-scale rejection of establishment politics and the global rise of a right wing populist movement, we need utopian and radical visions of society more than ever. This is not escapist wishful thinking but a reimagining of society as one that values people over profits, that rules democratically and collectively, that provides for the needs of all citizens. The following books question what our future might look like, offering utopian thinking that can inform our social movements.

Until Jan 1: ALL our books are 50% off, with bundled ebooks (where available). See our End of Year Highlights and Gift Guide. You can also browse our other reading lists here.

With racial justice struggles on the rise, a probing collection considers the past and future of Black radicalism.

Leading artists, theorists, and writers exhume the dystopian and utopian futures contained within the present.

Peter Frase argues that increasing automation and a growing scarcity of resources, thanks to climate change, will bring it all tumbling down. Frase imagines how this post-capitalist world might look, deploying the tools of both social science and speculative fiction to explore what communism, rentism, socialism and exterminism might actually entail.

An international bestseller, originally published in 1970, when Shulamith Firestone was just twenty-five years old, The Dialectic of Sex was the first book of the women’s liberation movement to put forth a feminist theory of politics.

She presents feminism as the key radical ideology, the missing link between Marx and Freud, uniting their visions of the political and the personal. The Dialectic of Sex remains remarkably relevant today—a testament to Firestone’s startlingly prescient vision. 

Everywhere we turn, a startling new device promises to transfigure our lives. But at what cost? In this urgent and revelatory excavation of our Information Age, leading technology thinker Adam Greenfield forces us to reconsider our relationship with the networked objects, services and spaces that define us. It is time to re-evaluate the Silicon Valley consensus determining the future.

What is the true meaning of happiness? Radical Happiness is a passionate call for the re-discovery of the political and emotional joy that emerge when we learn to share our lives together.

What is the function of art in the era of digital globalization? In Duty Free Art, filmmaker and writer Hito Steyerl wonders how we can appreciate, or even make art, in the present age.

The acclaimed analyst of contemporary politics and economics argues that capitalism is now in a critical condition. Growth is giving way to secular stagnation; inequality is leading to instability; and confidence in the capitalist money economy has all but evaporated.

Drawing on groundbreaking research from across the world, and covering virtually every area in the increasingly broad range of police work, Alex Vitale demonstrates how law enforcement has come to exacerbate the very problems it is supposed to solve.

Inventing the Future is a bold new manifesto for life after capitalism. Against the confused understanding of our high-tech world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed. Instead of running from a complex future, this book demands a postcapitalist economy capable of advancing standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies that expand our freedoms.

What is it that makes humans human? As science and technology challenge the boundaries between life and non-life, between organic and inorganic, this ancient question is more timely than ever. Acclaimed object-oriented philosopher Timothy Morton invites us to consider this philosophical issue as eminently political.

Five hundred years since its first publication, Thomas More’s Utopia remains astonishingly radical and provocative. In this quincentenary edition, More’s text is introduced by multi-award-winning author China Miéville and accompanied by four essays from Ursula K. Le Guin, today’s most distinguished utopian writer and thinker.

The essays in this book—some newly written, others gathered from scattered sources—look at the ways in which contemporary science fiction films draw on, rework, and transform established themes and conventions of the genre: the mise-en-scene of future worlds; the myth of masculine mastery of nature; power and authority and their relation to technology.

A companion volume to Alien Zone, this book continues to pursue the critical and theoretical issues opened up in the earlier book and energetically explores fresh territory with an eye which is both reflective and interventionist: visionary cities, psycho-cybernetics, internet fandom, the convergence of science fiction literature and science action film, the body and its limits are just some of the subjects brought under its gaze.

“Murphy tells the story of this counter-revolution pithily and well. . . A fresh and haunting way of explaining what happened to the radical 60s and 70s as a whole, in Murphy’s view quite possibly the last chance the west had of creating a decent and environmentally sustainable society.” – Andy Beckett, Guardian

How can we organize a society that gives us a better chance to be fully alive? How can we reinvent religion so that it liberates us instead of consoling us? These questions stand at the center of Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s The Religion of the Future: an argument for both spiritual and political revolution. It proposes the content of a religion that can survive without faith in a transcendent God or in life after death.

After the financial crash and the Great Recession, the media rediscovered Karl Marx, socialist theory, and the very idea that capitalism can be questioned.

“For anyone who cares about historical necessity, the crisis of capitalism, and our fate.” – Rachel Kushner 

Fredric Jameson’s path breaking essay “An American Utopia” radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. Includes responses from philosophers and political and cultural analysts, as well as an epilogue from Jameson himself.

Explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding non-stop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates through every hour of the clock, pushing us into constant activity and eroding forms of community and political expression, damaging the fabric of everyday life.

The size and severity of the global climate crisis is such that even the most committed environmentalists can drift into a state of denial. The award-winning writers collected here have made it their task to shake off this nagging disbelief, bringing the incomprehensible within our grasp and shaping an emotional response to mankind's unwitting creation of a tough new planet.

A toxic ideology of extreme competition and individualism has come to dominate our world. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better future.Urgent and passionate, Out of the Wreckage provides the hope and clarity required to change the world.

Keller Easterling reveals the nexus of emerging governmental and corporate forces buried within the concrete and fiber-optics of our modern habitat.

Nancy Fraser’s major new book traces the feminist movement’s evolution since the 1970s and anticipates a new—radical and egalitarian—phase of feminist thought and action.

SCUM Manifesto was considered one of the most outrageous and violent  tracts when it first appeared in 1968. Valerie Solanas, the woman who shot Andy Warhol, self-published this work just before her rampage against the king of Pop Art made her a household name and resulted in her confinement to a mental institution. But for all its vitriol, it is impossible to dismiss as unhinged. In fact, the work has indisputable prescience, not only as a radical feminist analysis light-years ahead of its timepredicting artificial insemination, ATMs, a feminist uprising against under-representation in the artsbut also as a stunning testament to the rage of an abused and destitute woman.

The focus of this edition is not on the nostalgic appeal of the work, but on Avital Ronell's incisive introduction, "Deviant Payback: The Aims of Valerie Solanas." Here is a reconsideration of Solanas's infamous text in light of her social milieu, Derrida's "The Ends of Man" (written in the same year), Judith Butler's Excitable Speech, Nietzsche's Ubermensch and notorious feminist icons from Medusa, Medea and Antigone, to Lizzie Borden, Lorenna Bobbit and Aileen Wournos, illuminating the evocative exuberance of Solanas's dark tract.

This wry and highly readable investigation of the role of space travel in popular imagination looks at the way NASA has openly borrowed from the TV show Star Trek to reinforce its public standing. It also celebrates the work of a group of the show’s fans who rewrite its storylines in porno-romance fanzines. Constance Penley advocates that scientific experimentation be accompanied by social and sexual experimentation, and devoted to exploring inner as well as outer space.

Until Jan 1: ALL our books are 50% off, with bundled ebooks (where available). See our End of Year Highlights and Gift Guide. You can also browse our other reading lists here.