(1928-2016) US journalist and author, best known for his speculative nonfiction on Sociology and Futures Studies, at that time better known as Futurology. Future Shock (1970) documents the increasing rate of change in the twentieth century, and speculates on the psychological trauma this may be causing Western civilization. Filmed as Future Shock (1972) with narration by Orson Welles, it has had a great influence in futurology generally, and quite directly on many sf writers – notably John Brunner, whose The Shockwave Rider (1975) pays homage to Toffler in its title. The Eco-Spasm Report (1975), a much shorter work which produces three plausible scenarios for Near-Future Disaster, at points approaches the narrative strategies of some sf. The Third Wave (1980) is a more Utopian (and in some ways Libertarian) book, whose Third Wave of history (which Toffler hoped was then arriving) will emphasize diversity, decentralization, individualism and new social structures. Toffler's style was populist, and he has been read by some as simply promoting techno-fixes for the things that are going wrong in the world, but this is to underestimate the complexity of his arguments. A more recent work of relevance is Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Violence at the Edge of the 21st Century (1990) [PN/DRL]
see also: Definitions of SF; Dystopias.
born New York: 4 October 1928
died Bel Air, Los Angeles, California: 27 June 2016
works as editor
Previous versions of this entry