Author Archives: Stephen Oram

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

What’s behind the fish?

Naturally, each and every story in my new collection, Biohacked & Begging, has a background story behind it.

The final story (and the one illustrated above) is Placodermi Protection which came from the combination of two threads I was thinking about when I wrote it.

The story started to form after listening to Jaron Lanier, where one of the things he talked about was using virtual reality to experience things that are ‘other’ to the normal. Something different to the tired ‘swimming with dolphins’ type of VR.

Alongside this I’d become interested in zombie neurons, the neurons that are present in the fetus but die at birth because they relate to aspects that evolution has seen the back of, such as wings on sheep mites.

And so, the world of virtual reality for babies and biohacked fish was born.

If you’re in London on 9 April, you can hear the first public reading of this at the near-future fictions event, Boundless Bodies.


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

Press release available here and on request.


Art: Placodermi Protection by Kim Hutson @batfacedgirlart