National Press

“Sharp and fascinating” – The Wall Street Journal

“…stellar reviews all over the place, and it is certainly one of the most interesting science books I’ve read for a long time … contentious subjects tackled in an approachable way.” – New Statesman

“a rollicking roller-coaster ride around the cutting edge of science with dozens of laugh-out-loud moments. His access to some of the planet’s brainiest scientists might suggest that he himself has a professional reputation of some stature. But having cornered them in the labs, Stevenson is far from star-struck” – The Scotsman

“Out there on the edge of research, Stevenson puts the trends of tomorrow’s world into perspective with a quizzical, fast-paced, quick-witted tour of the scientific horizon.” – The Times

“insightful… entertaining… Stevenson’s restrained and rational enthusiasm makes for optimistic reading” – The Australian

“Stevenson turns out to be an energetic tour guide to the cutting edge of science – like inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil, but without that doomed feeling that can come from hearing Kurzweil’s predictions.” – Washington Post

“[A] grand tour of charismatic technologies and their prophets … Stevenson bags an impressive list of interviewees” – Financial Times

“Essential…illuminating and refreshingly hopeful…an auspicious yet grounded vision” – The Atlantic

“Stevenson describes our future’s possibilities with a journalist’s eye for detail, a teacher’s knack for translating complexities, and a comic’s wry commentary” – Christian Science Monitor

“an ability to express even the most complex scientific problems in terms easily understood by a layperson. His discussion of global warming is a model of cogency” – Sydney Morning Herald

“The Future is here and all around us. It’s just, as William Gibson puts it, not evenly distributed as yet. And why not? This is the book’s killer punch: we have 21st century tech, but our familiar world – from schooling, to work, to our ideas of retirement – hasn’t changed since the industrial revolution. The future cannot happen until we change our minds to meet it” 4 stars. – Henry Gee, Senior editor at Nature, in BBC Focus magazine

“infectiously enthusiastic…Despite the book’s title Stevenson is not a relentlessly wide-eyed optimist. He is alive to the self-puffing of the scientists and engineers he meets, and has a nice eye for the absurd… plenty of material for pub speculation” – Sunday Times

“Stevenson’s journey is a measured effort to take stock of the reasons for hope, and to keep faith with the enlightenment project. You don’t have to find all the people he meets persuasive, or go along with all his judgments of their projects. But he makes a good case for believing that we can have a future worth making an effort to reach.” – The Guardian

“Insightful, humorous and creatively researched, this is a rollicking read and expansive in its open-your-eyes take on the world. Resource crises, climate change, terrorism, the advancement of machine technology, it’s all here – complete with references to Burroughs, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Proust and Einstein. In questioning progress, Stevenson employs science, ethics and philosophy and never fails to be inspirational.” – Mind Food Magazine, Australia

“Humour often cuts something down – it slights or disparages. But while Mark Stevenson finds plenty to chuckle over he never succumbs to cynicism about what might be in store… a refreshing reminder that the future will always belong to the optimists” – New Scientist


Chris Anderson, Curator

“Blind optimism is the last thing the world needs – a recipe for disappointment.  But what about optimism based on careful reasoning? Or digging below the surface for the ideas and the trends that really do add up to something promising?  That’s what’s on offer here. Stevenson wears no blindfold. His tools are curiosity, open-mindedness, clarity and reason.  That makes his journey intriguing… and ultimately exhilarating.”

Michael Brooks – Author of ’13 Things That Don’t Make Sense’ and ‘Free Radicals’

“Uplifting and liberating. Mark Stevenson is the perfect tour guide: optimistic without being naive, fun but not silly, entertaining but enlightening. By the end I was utterly convinced that, given the opportunity to flourish, human ingenuity can disperse the clouds that hang over us today. This is a book to gladden the gloomiest heart.”

Henry Pollack, Nobel Peace Prize Winner and author of ‘A World Without Ice’

“Mark Stevenson is a futurist endowed with abundant optimism. Where some fear that robotics and artificial intelligence will dehumanize the world, he sees an enhancement of freedom; where some see nanotechnology as an army of submicron Lilliputians taking over, he sees an invisible array of artisans performing miracles in tight spaces. It’s invigorating to be led to the far side by someone who sees the bright side!”

Peter Miller, Author of ‘The Smart Swarm’

“This is a brilliant book, and Mark Stevenson is the perfect guide to a dizzying future that is already here. Genetic innovation. Social robots. Nano factories. The ideas come so quickly, with such great humor—it’s like the smartest dinner party you’ve ever attended.”

Matt Ridley, author of ‘Genome’

“insightful and fresh, but also very well written … the best writing about genes I’ve seen in ages.”

Blogs / book sites


“Stevenson does a great job of delivering all the facts with a sense of wonder and true curiosity. Mix that with a dose of humor and actual understanding of what is being presented to him and you have a very coherent and entertaining journey through the world of future technology. For anyone interested in what the future holds, I highly recommend this book.”

Cory Doctorow @ Boing boing

“Mark Stevenson’s An Optimist’s Tour of the Future is a hilarious and inspiring romp through some of the most promising directions in technology. Stevenson, a former standup comedian, writes with enormous warmth and humor, and he fast-talks his way into the presence of some hard-to-reach scientists and theorists who really represent the cutting edge of their fields [and] does an admirable job of presenting these findings in a lay-friendly way without eliding too much important detail.”

Part trendhunting, part rigorous research, part cultural anthropology, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future may just be our generation’s version of Bill Brysons’s iconic A Short History of Nearly Everything — a bold and entertaining blueprint for a future that’s ours to shape and ours to live.


“Putting the ‘popular’ back in ‘popular science’ this is an absolute winner: entertaining, educational, jaw dropping.Never before have I been so captivated by a piece of non-fiction. There are various good-enough books out there, but this is something else. Covering everything from robots to the environment, space exploration to eternal life, the book tracks Stevenson as he treks around the globe, meeting people on the cutting edge of science, and turning their babble into clear descriptions, ideas and explanations Joe Bloggs can understand.”

Guardian Children’s Books

“…fantastic… funny, smart… Even though it’s a non-fiction book it reminded me slightly of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

Forces of Geek

“Stevenson is uniquely suited to the task of making his tour of the future not only extremely informative but accessible and entertaining.”

‘You do too much’ – (Naked Scientist) Kat Arney’s blog

An Optimist’s Tour is a rollercoaster headf**k of a book that leaves you shaking your head and muttering “wow!”  You get a real feel for what it’s like to meet these people and get caught up by their energy and ideas. Clever analogies and metaphors, coupled with his easy-going, conversational writing style, make complicated scientific principles pop off the page into graspable reality. …an absolutely cracking read, providing plenty of food for thought and discussion, and I highly recommend it.