We've always been fascinated with the future. From the smartphone of tomorrow to the sci-fi world of intergalactic space travel, we are drawn to speculation about what could be. In this year's Best Of issue, we celebrate forward thinking with our theme of Back to the Future—we're getting back to looking ahead.
Unlike the movie of the same name, we don't get to see what's next, but we do analyze the past to shape the future. Not coincidentally, 2015 is the year the young Marty McFly travels to in the sequel to his history-altering hijinks—watch it again and compare reality today with what it was envisioned to be just 30 years ago. As you'll see, it's pretty much spot-on, right down to the power laces. (But not that part about the Cubs. Don't ever put money on the Cubbies.)
The future is also about accepting people's differences, conserving energy and making sure the energy we do use comes from sustainable sources. The world wouldn't be the same without innovators in the arts, technology, media, industry, food, transportation and even romance. For that reason, we celebrate pioneers—futurist thinkers of their time—and draw inspiration from their radical ideas.
Leilani Clark, Tom Gogola, Nicolas Grizzle, Stett Holbrook, Brooke Jackson, James Knight, Jacquelynne Ocaña, Jonah Raskin, Charlie Swanson and David Templeton contributed to the writers' picks in this issue, and their initials are inscribed at the end of their pieces like carvings in a park bench. But their contributions will exist digitally beyond the lifespan of a slab of treated wood (unless, of course, that slab is picked up at a reclaimed salvage yard and made into something new and beautiful). —Nicolas Grizzle