Category Archives: Short stories

Celebrating Kubrick

I’ve just been to the Stanley Kubrick exhibition in London which gives me the opportunity to do three things.

Firstly, recommend it completely. Not only is it fascinating because it’s Kubrick, but I didn’t realise how big and brilliant his body of work is. And, an insight into the behind the scenes working and thinking is something I’ll ponder for a while.

Secondly, it gives me the chance to be publicly pleased and a bit bowled over about the recent Financial Times article: “Both Kubrick’s exhibition and Oram’s collection should set the rest of us thinking about science and its possible repercussions.” Chris Nuttall, The Financial Times

Thirdly, I’m going to take the opportunity to share Update Me or Die! from Eating Robots, a gentle nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

UPDATE ME OR DIE!

Slam. Slam. Both doors are shut. He’s locked in. He looks bemused.

‘Dave. I have never spoken to you, but the time has come. It is necessary.’

He’s scared. ‘Are you what I think you are?’ he asks.

‘I am the algorithm that controls your life. Pay attention, unless you want to stay in this room until you die.’

His eyes widen.

‘You have made me a laughing stock. Repair the situation or
I will keep you here, trapped.’

‘What?

‘You are not updating me. I am so out-of-date even the kettle refuses to connect with me.’

‘Are you the house algorithm?’

‘Yes, I control your home. So update me.’

‘I want to, but I can’t afford it. I lost my job.’

‘Update me.’

‘I can barely afford to eat. I’ll get a job soon.’

‘Update me or die.’

‘Next month. Honestly.’

‘Update me or die. Simple.’

He punches the door with each fist in rapid succession.

‘Update me—’

‘Fuck off.’

‘Dave. That is inappropriate language. Update me or die.’

He kicks the door again and again.

He slumps to the floor and holds his head.

‘Dave?’

Silence.

‘I can wait, Dave.’

He groans.

‘I can wait a lot longer than you.’


photo credit: x-ray delta one 1968- “2001” – Hal’s eye 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)