The Visioneers: Reviews

Awards for The Visioneers

Reviews and Comments

Pre-publication reviews:

The Visioneers is an enthralling tale of visionaries fighting against the gravity of habit and convention, cajoling the rest of us to create a new and better future. It is at once compelling history and a reminder that if one aims high and far enough, even failures can lead to unintended society-changing successes.” —Paul Saffo, managing director, Discern

“Having been a cheerleader for the grand schemes recounted in this book, I’m happy to be a cheerleader for the book itself. It is accurate, thorough, and insightful. Since this century is certain to produce many new cadres of visioneers, the book will lend perspective on how best to critique and harness their dreams.” —Stewart Brand, author of Whole Earth Discipline

“In this compulsively readable history, Patrick McCray tells the remarkable, intertwined story of the ‘visioneers,’ improbable dreamers whose aspirations for a transformative future surprisingly helped create the world of today. His American panorama sweeps us from the malaise of the 1970s through the go-go 1980s and the technocratic 1990s. We end up in our present, richer for the journey.”–Michael Gordin, Princeton University

“This wonderful and unique book uncovers the complex array of activities scientific dreamers undertake in convincing the world that their visions of technological utopias can, and should, become realities. McCray tells a masterful story about how ‘visioneers’ rely on their scientific expertise and detailed engineering plans to legitimate their evocative tales of technological salvation in the face of ecological disasters.” —David A. Kirby, author of Lab Coats in Hollywood

“In The Visioneers, Patrick McCray introduces us to a host of innovators who pushed back against the language of limits. Their techno-enthusiast ventures, unfolding in the closing decades of the twentieth century, combined technical skill, bold speculation, and public-relations savvy. By tracing their inspirations, missteps, and unconventional networks, McCray offers a rich and fascinating cultural history of technological aspirations at a critical turning point in American history.” —David Kaiser, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“McCray presents a fast-moving, compelling, and highly readable account of scientific movements in space colonization and nanotech. In each case, he argues that a single individual–a visioneer–brought the movement into existence and drove its rise to popularity through a mix of networking, promotion, and engineering.” —Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture

“McCray tells the engaging story of Gerard O’Neill and K. Eric Drexler and the people they knew and worked with as they launched scientific, technological, and social movements in space exploration and nanotechnology. He has mined most if not all of the available sources and interviewed many of the key players. The Visioneers is a major contribution.” —Peter Bishop, coeditor of Thinking about the Future

“This is the foremost study of its kind in terms of detail, depth, and intellectual significance. McCray illuminates the challenges these visioneers faced in conceiving of their respective visions, defending them against critics and rivals, and learning to balance partial victories and partial defeats. Readers come to understand these figures as human beings beyond coming to understand their ideas, projects, and crusades.” —Howard P. Segal, author of Technological Utopianism in American Culture