A high-quality photography book with 11 accessible and provocative short essays and 169 haunting images. Using photographs of industrial and postindustrial ruins from East Asia, North America, and Western Europe, this book tells a compelling story of our failed ambitions and betrayed dreams in the past century. By showing the little known post-apocalyptic scenes that are already all around us, this visual ethnography does not just ask how the end of the world would look like, but also invite readers to go beyond the visual sublime and melancholy and begin to reflect on the profound questions of time, modernity, and civilization.


  • 1. Time Speeds Up

  • 2. Space Age Modernism

  • 3. Automobile Civilization

  • 4. The Incredible Shrinking Detroit

  • 5. Battleship Island

  • 6. Industrial Sublime

  • 7. Pleasure Spots

  • 8. Bubbles

  • 9. Maximizing Life

  • 10. Faith

  • 11. Post-apocalypse Now

  • Further Reading & Acknowledgements


What will the end of the world look like? Abandoned Futures is a breathtaking global overview of the decay and abandonment that sits in the midst of humanity's constant push toward an uncertain future. It is a visual epic dedicated to the edge of our power, where human industry fails and decay takes over. These are the landscapes that give the lie to our dreams of immortality.

Abandoned Futures is a road trip into a post-apocalyptical landscape that is at turns both beautiful and frightening. It features striking imagery from different continent: from the mysterious island that forms the base of James Bond’s nemesis in Skyfall to a sinister abandoned theme park in the United States. Witness the despair of crumbling industrial Detroit and the spectre of failed modernism in a deserted space-age village in Taiwan. Follow us on a journey off the grid through ghostly asylums, decaying sanitoriums, sublime industrial collapses and contemplate the spectacular fallout of what really happens when a worldwide bubble economy pops.


2014 Top ten books of the year.      — Rough Trade

This is where Lam stands out from pedestrian purveyors of “ruin porn.” While his beautifully composed photographs seduce one into nostalgia, his writing prompts one to consider why...  Lam draws our attention to the global phenomenon of capitalism, where for every boom, there always seems to be a bust that leaves us with ghost towns and industrial graveyards.       — International Examiner

Abandoned Futures is a thoroughly compelling visual epic that captures perfectly the feelings of melancholy and wonder that shape our undeniable obsession with modern ruins.       — Urban Ghosts Media

Se nem todos serão sensíveis à “beleza da decrepitude” que se espraia nestas páginas, que ao menos estas imagens sirvam de lições de humildade para as nossas vidas.       — Observador


                                                                                                     Rough Trade Top 10 Books of the Year -2014-

Carpet Bombing Culture (2013) - hardcover -  192 pages - 169 illustrations -  24.9 x 25.1 x 2.3 cm


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Sample images

Copyright Tong Lam . All rights reserved.