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The Future and Why We Should Avoid It: Killer Robots, the Apocalypse and Other Topics of Mild Concern

by Scott Feschuk

Scott Feschuk is an extremely funny guy, which is a good thing given his abundant presence on Canadian newsstands. Both as a political speechwriter and a humour columnist, he has written for a variety of prominent newspapers and magazines, and currently has a regular byline in Maclean’s, which is where one assumes most of the content of this new collection has been pulled from.

The Future and Why We Should Avoid It (Scott Feschuk)It’s a book of gripes, but lots of gags as well. The title should not be taken as indicating any kind of thematic coherence: the book is an entertaining miscellany of social satire arranged around various general topics (politics, arts and entertainment, leisure, science, aging, and, yes, killer robots) that only occasionally tries to look into the future. When he does bring out his comedic crystal ball the perspective taken is that, as crazy as things are now, they still have the potential to get worse.

This is another way of pointing out that Feschuk’s humour, like that of most columnists, is timely, riffing on news items and celebrity names drawn from current headlines and happenings. This is both the book’s strength and its weakness.

Feschuk is at his best when sticking close to hard news; when he gets more speculative he tends to become sillier. His commentaries on the 2012 U.S. election campaigns, for example, and in particular the Democratic and Republican nominating conventions, are hilarious, but insightful in a way we’ve come to expect from today’s political humour, which is often more informative than straight news coverage.

On the other hand, only two years later, who remembers or even cares about the party nominating conventions and who said what at them? Nothing dates like topical humour, and one should probably read and enjoy Feschuk now, before it’s too late.