In 1899, Jean Marc Côté, a French commercial artist, was commissioned to produce illustrations for a series of cigarette cards to coincide with celebrations being held throughout France to mark the turn of th ecentury. But, before the cards could be distributed, the company that commissioned them went out of business, leaving behind just one complete set of cards. Fifty of these cards, whimsically depicting life in the year 2000, are reproduced in full colour here, with lively commentary and analysis from the twentieth century’s most esteemed futurist, Isaac Asimov.
In his fascinating discussion of futurism which serves as an introduction to this book, Isaac Asimov writes: “The desire to know our individual destinies has been linked, through the centuries, with our desire to foretell what will happen to humanity as a whole, to comprehend in all its complexity the grand sweep of history.” In Futuredays, the artist‘s imagination tackles the uncertainties of the future with delightful, amusing, and surprisingly accurate results.
The impetus for this book is a series of cards designed for the French celebration of the beginning of the 20th century, illustrating what life might be like at its end. The cards are whimsical and fun, but (to be frank) taken a little too seriously in the book as genuine predictions of what the future would be like—I tend to think that they’re more an ancestor of The Jetsons than a serious attempt at predicting the future.
Still, the cards are interesting, and they‘re surrounded by an introduction by Asimov on futurism in general and little comments on the pictures and how prescient they were (or not). The essay on futurism is not, I believe, otherwise reproduced in Asimov’s works and that alone makes this slim little volume worthwhile. And the pictures are fun, too.