Author Archives: Stephen Oram

Share Ideas | Share Research | Share the Future

It is with great pleasure that I can announce Share the Future, a public event on 3 June (tickets on eventbrite)

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve been working alongside scientists and future-tech folk for a couple of years as part of a project with King’s College London. They do the science and I do the fiction. In fact, Christine Aicardi who leads the project wrote the foreword to my new collection.

These collaborations have been really interesting and have produced some great fiction for public events and some has made it into my new collection. Two of the scientists, Claire Steves and Danbee Kim, have each written an expert response at the back of the Biohacked & Begging

This is what Claire and Danbee have to say about sharing…

“Openness and lack of secrecy in research reduces the chance that good ideas are only exploitable by private entities.” Claire Steves.

“Hard-working humans who acknowledge how subjective, how painstakingly slow, how human the endeavour of building, organising and sharing knowledge is and needs to be – that will be the beginning of solving our problems, and the first step for anyone who truly wants to be curious.” Danbee Kim.

So, we’d love you to come along and join the conversation on 3 June. Tickets are free, but you need to book.

Find out more about the project, its impact and the background to Zygosity Saves the Day which came out of working with Claire and TwinsUK.


photo credit: mclcbooks Roots via photopin (license)

Is it a collection for commuters?

I’m told that we have a shorter attention span than we used to. That we are at a moment in history when we want everything in bite-sized chunks. We make these micro-transactions in all sorts of ways. From the instantly ‘liked’ and instantly forgotten interactions to the chopping and changing between watching a film while flicking through our feeds.

Do we want bite-sized fiction too?

Well, I’m told we do. Actually, I’m told people enjoy reading tightly formed flash stories, such as those in my Nudge the Future collections – did I mention there’s a new one out? It’s called Biohacked & Begging. 

In this new collection I play around with the notion of micro-transactions. I touch on such things as micro-voting, renting your home by the hour, and the zero-hours contracts of the future.  It’s not all bleak (honest).

Short fiction is certainly not at all a new thing and I don’t think flash fiction will ever replace the full immersion of reading a novel, it’s a totally different experience.

Hopefully, these Nudge the Future collections fill a gap – they’re perfect for the commute to and from work, or for reading with your morning coffee.

Why not use them to create a small oasis of entertainment? Why not flit off to another place for a precious few minutes each day with a self-contained story?

And if they also prompt some pondering that’s great because don’t forget, The future is ours and it’s up for grabs…


“The more we surround ourselves with technology, the more uncanny our lives become. Enter Stephen Oram: with Bradbury’s clear-sightedness and Pangborn’s wit, he pulls ways to live out from under modernity’s “cacophony of crap.”” Simon Ings, Arts Editor, New Scientist.

Find out more about Biohacked and Begging

 


photo credit: SHAN DUTTA _DSC1241 via photopin (license)

An excess of ears to entertain

With less than a week to go before Biohacked & Begging is released, the interviews have started. One of the recurring questions is about the inspiration behind the collection. There is a long answer, which can be found on a previous post Prodding and poking the possible, but the short answer is, “to entertain.”

The second story in the collection is Mr Enhancement, wonderfully illustrated by Kim Hutson above, and written specifically for the Enfield Literary Festival as part of The Clockhouse London Writers Presents.

I took the inspiration from the performance artist Stelarc, who famously has an ear on his arm. Here’s an extract from his biography: “[…] has visually probed and acoustically amplified his body. He has made three films of the inside of his body. Between 1976-1988 he completed 26 body suspension performances with hooks into the skin. He has used medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, Virtual Reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology to engineer intimate and involuntary interfaces with the body. He explores Alternate Anatomical Architectures with augmented and extended body constructs.”

As you can imagine, I was really chuffed when Stelarc agreed to read an advance copy of Biohacked & Begging and doubly chuffed when he gave me this quote for the cover:  “Can humans remain ‘more than digital, more than flesh’ with detachable limbs, multiple ears, implants that can be hacked and nanobots that can be ingested? These thoroughly enjoyable and contestable futures explore the personal and political implications of fleshy and messy encounters with contentious technology and the epidemic of algorithms.”

I hope you enjoy the collection as much as Stelarc did.


Biohacked & Begging is published on 12 April, but you can pre-order from Amazon now.

Press release available here and on request.


Art: Mr Enhancement by Kim Hutson @batfacedgirlart