WIRED February 2021

The Wired mission is to tell the world something they've never heard before in a way they've never seen before. It's about turning new ideas into everyday reality. It's about seeding our community of influencers with the ideas that will shape and transform our collective future. Wired readers want to know how technology is changing the world, and they're interested in big, relevant ideas, even if those ideas challenge their assumptions—or blow their minds.

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3 min
about this issue

What is this in your hands? What has happened to WIRED? We’ve always been a magazine about the future—about the forces shaping it, and the shape we’d like it to take. Sometimes, for us, that means being wild-eyed optimists, envisioning the scenarios that excite us most. And sometimes that means taking pains to envision futures that we really, really want to avoid. By giving clarity and definition to those nightmare trajectories, the hope is that we can give people the ability to recognize and divert from them. Almost, say, the way a vaccine teaches an immune system what to ward off. And that’s what this issue of WIRED is trying to do. Over the past several years, relations between the US and China have moldered. And they’re not likely to solidify any time…

54 min
the wén rui incident

14:47 MARCH 12, 2034 (GMT+8) SOUTH CHINA SEA It surprised her still, even after twenty-four years, the way from horizon to horizon the vast expanse of ocean could in an instant turn completely calm, taut as a linen pulled across a table. She imagined that if a single needle were dropped from a height, it would slip through all the fathoms of water to the seabed, where, undisturbed by any current, it would rest on its point. How many times over her career had she stood as she did now, on the bridge of a ship, observing this miracle of stillness? A thousand times? Two thousand? On a recent sleepless night, she had studied her logbooks and totaled up all the days she had spent traversing the deep ocean, out of sight…

60 min

18:42 MARCH 12, 2034 (GMT-4) WASHINGTON, D.C., EN ROUTE TO BEIJING Anyone who lived through the war could tell you where they were the moment the power went out. Captain Sarah Hunt had been on the bridge of the John Paul Jones, fighting to keep her flagship afloat while trying to ignore the panicked cries coming from belowdecks. Wedge had his wrists flex-cuffed in the small of his back as he was driven blindfolded under armed escort across the tarmac of Bandar Abbas airfield. Lin Bao had recently departed Dulles International Airport on a Gulfstream 900, one of a suite of private jets made available to members of the Central Military Commission. Lin Bao had, over the course of his thirty-year career, flown on these jets from time to time, either as part…

60 min
blinding the elephant

12:13 APRIL 23, 2034 (GMT+4:30) ISFAHAN Qassem Farshad had taken the deal he was offered. Discipline against him had been decisive and swift. In less than a month he was delivered a letter of reprimand for his excesses during the interrogation of the American pilot, followed by an early retirement. When he had asked if there was anyone else he might appeal his case to, the administrative officer who’d been sent to deliver the news showed him the bottom of the page, which held the signature of the old man himself, Major General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. When Farshad received the letter, he’d been on suspension at home, at his family’s country residence an hour outside of Isfahan. It reminded him of Soleimani’s home in…

47 min
red lines

01:46 MAY 22, 2034 (GMT+2) BARENTS SEA For the third night in a row, Farshad struggled to sleep. His cabin was right above the waterline and he could hear the ice floes glancing off the bow, hitting like the tolling of a bell—dong, dong, dong. All through the night, the noise was relentless. When he had arrived in Tartus weeks before, a set of orders had awaited him. He wouldn’t be assigned to liaison duties there, with the Russian Federation’s short-sleeved, sun-bronzed Mediterranean Fleet, but far to the north with its Baltic Fleet. When he had stepped off the plane at naval headquarters in Kaliningrad, he didn’t even have a winter coat. He assumed headquarters would assign him to one of the larger command ships, the Kuznetsov, or perhaps the battle cruiser…

10 min
what did i just read?

MARIA STRESHINSKY, WIRED: So, where did the idea for this book come from? ADMIRAL JAMES STAVRIDIS: From another novel that I read many years ago, in the 1980s, called The Third World War, by Sir John Hackett. It is a superb novel that imagines a global war between the United States and the Soviet Union. Over the past few years, the conversation about China and the United States heading toward a cold war began to gain real currency. You heard Henry Kissinger, for example, say that “we’re not in a cold war, but we’re in the foothills of a cold war.” I started to think: How can we avoid a war with China? And I think part of the reason we avoided a war with the Soviet Union was that we could imagine…