All My Stars (24)

By: Joanne McNeil
June 16, 2016


One in a weekly series in which Joanne McNeil recommends books, films, exhibitions, and more. You can also subscribe to the All My Stars newsletter here.


blade runner

It is easy to imagine a futuristic and/or dystopic Los Angeles. We’ve seen it in Blade Runner and Her. But recently when I was trying to think of films depicting the future of New York, I came up short. Minority Report was DC. I, Robot took place in Chicago. Surrogates, that utterly ridiculous Bruce Willis film from several years back, was set in Boston. The city in The Matrix is never mentioned but it would probably be Chicago, hometown of the Wachowski sisters. I can’t remember if they mention the name of the city in Max Headroom. It could have been anywhere just urban enough from Baltimore or Cincinnati.

There’s the great novel 334 by Thomas M. Disch, and Escape from New York, but science fiction films set in the city tend to be contemporary with a supernatural element like Ghostbusters or Batteries Not Included. But I guess I’m casually neglecting to mention the ending of AI. There’s never been a film as good as Blade Runner set in New York. But how many, of all the films, set anywhere, about anything, are that good? The hyper-gentrified whiteness of Spike Jonze’s future LA is its own unintentional dystopia. Still I’d love to see someone imagine Brooklyn with that much ambition.


At first I thought the absence of New York sci-fi might be because the city is revered in culture for its history. But there are several films considering the future of London including Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange, and 1984. Instead of imagining a future for New York, sci-fi writers dream of its destruction. I already mentioned this book I keep meaning to read: The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction​, by Max Page.

Anyway, I mean to write something a bit longer about New York sci-fi and while I keep researching would appreciate any recommended books, tv, films, etc.


Orlando is in my thoughts. I meant to go to a vigil that night but stayed home and watched the Tonys. I don’t typically watch award shows. And definitely not this one. But even apart from that big one everyone is always talking about, I was impressed with the openness and the diversity of the crowd. As Laura Olin put it, “basically the Tonys are a glimpse of what the world would be like if it were run by the gays, and especially today, i am here for it.” I got a bit weepy when I looked up the film Waitress, and remembered that Adrienne Shelley — you remember her from so many Hal Hartley films — wrote and directed it and that she was brutally murdered just a few months before its premiere at Sundance ten years ago. The music in the musical adaptation might not be quite to my taste but when the world is confusing, heavy, and dangerous, one can do worse than watch people singing and dancing about feminism and pies.



CURATED SERIES at HILOBROW: UNBORED CANON by Josh Glenn | CARPE PHALLUM by Patrick Cates | MS. K by Heather Kasunick | HERE BE MONSTERS by Mister Reusch | DOWNTOWNE by Bradley Peterson | #FX by Michael Lewy | PINNED PANELS by Zack Smith | TANK UP by Tony Leone | OUTBOUND TO MONTEVIDEO by Mimi Lipson | TAKING LIBERTIES by Douglas Wolk | STERANKOISMS by Douglas Wolk | MARVEL vs. MUSEUM by Douglas Wolk | NEVER BEGIN TO SING by Damon Krukowski | WTC WTF by Douglas Wolk | COOLING OFF THE COMMOTION by Chenjerai Kumanyika | THAT’S GREAT MARVEL by Douglas Wolk | LAWS OF THE UNIVERSE by Chris Spurgeon | IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Alexandra Molotkow | UNFLOWN by Jacob Covey | ADEQUATED by Franklin Bruno | QUALITY JOE by Joe Alterio | CHICKEN LIT by Lisa Jane Persky | PINAKOTHEK by Luc Sante | ALL MY STARS by Joanne McNeil | BIGFOOT ISLAND by Michael Lewy | NOT OF THIS EARTH by Michael Lewy | ANIMAL MAGNETISM by Colin Dickey | KEEPERS by Steph Burt | AMERICA OBSCURA by Andrew Hultkrans | HEATHCLIFF, FOR WHY? by Brandi Brown | DAILY DRUMPF by Rick Pinchera | BEDROOM AIRPORT by “Parson Edwards” | INTO THE VOID by Charlie Jane Anders | WE REABSORB & ENLIVEN by Matthew Battles | BRAINIAC by Joshua Glenn | COMICALLY VINTAGE by Comically Vintage | BLDGBLOG by Geoff Manaugh | WINDS OF MAGIC by James Parker | MUSEUM OF FEMORIBILIA by Lynn Peril | ROBOTS + MONSTERS by Joe Alterio | MONSTOBER by Rick Pinchera | POP WITH A SHOTGUN by Devin McKinney | FEEDBACK by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FTW by John Hilgart | ANNOTATED GIF by Kerry Callen | FANCHILD by Adam McGovern | BOOKFUTURISM by James Bridle | NOMADBROW by Erik Davis | SCREEN TIME by Jacob Mikanowski | FALSE MACHINE by Patrick Stuart | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 MORE DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE (AGAIN) | ANOTHER 12 DAYS OF SIGNIFICANCE | UNBORED MANIFESTO by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen | H IS FOR HOBO by Joshua Glenn | 4CP FRIDAY by guest curators



What do you think?

  1. Lovely post, Joanne!
    Not a film, but there is an excellent near-future NYC dystopia in Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad.”

  2. It is odd to reflect on the relative obscurity of the city of New York in speculative fictions. There is a curious nod to New York in the future in the name of the snug pub in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (both novel and film): the Duke of New York.

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