Sci-Friday: Typeset in the Future
A glimpse at glyphs that feel into a time beyond our years.
A quick word about Sci-Friday before we get started
In August,and I spontaneously dreamt up the idea for #Sci-Friday in a comment somewhere on Design Fiction Daily. Today marks my 9th Sci-Friday contribution. I didn’t think I’d have much to say other than a few movie recos, but turns out that isn’t the case.
Along the way we picked up a few hitchhikers in the janky time machine, all of whom have shared excellent recos from stories to alien-looking earth fruit.
If you’re into science fiction and are interested in discovering more ideas around the genre, follow and support some of our substack contemporaries who’ve joined us in this weekly activity., , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
Thanks gang. I love that we’re building a little community of sci-fi nerdery.
Today's post took considerable effort, so please hit that like button, it really helps. Only you can hack the algorithm and spread the good word of design fiction and the power of imagination.
On with the show
This week I want to talk about typography. More specifically font design from the future.
I used to design fonts back in the day with my pal. We had a little foundry called Utypeia. We also had a cool and complicated ambigram wordmark, designed by Jason. We were obsessed with the fast and loose font styles of Alphabetician Chank Diesel, which paired nicely with the 90s David Carson aesthetic. Our fonts were grungy and experimental, and some were even seen in the wild, adorning real-world designs.
To this day, I continue to goof around in FontForge and occasionally whip up a display font for shits and giggles. Today I’m sharing some display faces I created a few years ago, and one I worked on this past weekend.
Oh, and the fonts down below will be free to download for my paid subscribers.
Design Fiction Daily is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
First, let’s talk about Fonts, Sci-Fi and Design Fiction
In the vast cosmos of design and communication, fonts silently carry out the profound task of world-building. Within the realm of science fiction, this role is magnified, as typography becomes not just a mode of relaying information but a tool for manifesting imagined futures and realities. These typefaces, with their distinct curves, angles, and weights, do more than communicate—they set the atmosphere, hinting at the societies, technologies, and zeitgeists of the fictional domains they inhabit.
At its heart, science fiction is a genre of possibilities, speculation, and extrapolation. Typography within this space underscores these themes, offering visual representations of the text's intent. Consider the sleek, geometric sans-serifs that often grace the consoles of starships and the HUDs of advanced exosuits. These fonts reflect clean, orderly, technologically-advanced futures. Conversely, distorted, eroded typefaces may hint at dystopian landscapes marked by decay and chaos.
Yet, beyond mere aesthetic or atmospheric considerations, typefaces in science fiction can evolve into design fiction artifacts themselves. They become tangible relics of their fictional worlds, bearing the weight of their cultural, technological, and social contexts. An alien script, for instance, isn’t just a set of unfamiliar glyphs—it’s an embodiment of a civilization’s history, evolution, and interactions. Such fonts serve as a bridge, inviting audiences to glean insights into the cultures and epochs from which they emerge.
In essence, fonts in science fiction are symptomatic, revealing hints and nuances of the futures they adorn. They transform passive reading into an active engagement, prompting readers and viewers to decipher not just words but the worlds behind them. In this dance of strokes and spaces, typefaces emerge as silent heralds of the futures we dare to imagine.
Book Reco: Typeset in the Future
Typography and Design in Science Fiction Movies
by Dave Addey
Typeset in the Future is an obsessively geeky study of how classic sci-fi movies draw us in to their imagined worlds—and how they have come to represent “THE FUTURE” in popular culture.
Some sci-fi fonts, from me to you.
A font by Dré Labre
When I first saw the trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, I immediately noticed the typography at the end. I loved how the word Dune was made from the same shape in different orientations. I felt compelled to crack open Illustrator and explore how many more letters could I create using this primitive horseshoe shape.
I decided to name my font DUNC so that each coordinate of the horseshoe shaped appeared in the name. A nod to the film that inspired it, and a vulgar display of clever technique.
I posted it to a couple sites, shared it with friends and even used it in a few designs. There were a few things I felt I needed to address, but I only picked at it here and there.
Today, I’m putting this face out in the wild. A Beta version of DUNC along with the other faces below will be available to download for free to my paid subscribers, and anyone else interested can purchase it on Gumroad for a pittance.
A font by Dré Labre
Diegetic is my attempt to create a font that feels like a typographic trope. Inspired by what you might find on a billboard in a sci-fi film, this typeface is a sharp and legible display that wreaks of dystopian tech corporation, or interplanetary police.
A font by Dré Labre
With the recent introduction of DALL-E 3 I wanted to test its ability to render type. From social media posts it seems to do a good job at writing simple words or sentences.
I wanted to see how DALL-E 3 would do if I asked it to run through the alphabet.
To my chagrin, the output was good but not complete. This meant I would have to put in a little extra work to fill in the gaps, but considering that it did most of the work for me, I only spent a fraction of the time that I would have normally spent designing each letter from scratch.
After a few hours of vectorizing images, frankenstein’ing faces and adjusting a couple dozen kerning pairs, I bring you Future Rune Alpha. This unique and messy display font feels like a future alphabet revealed after dusting off the debris from centuries of neglect and abandon.
Paid subscriber freebies
Thank you for supporting Design Fiction Daily. As a token of my appreciation I’m pleased to give you a promo code that you can use at checkout to get the fonts for free. Install them, use them, enjoy them. All you have to do is:
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Design Fiction Daily to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.