Category Archives: flash fiction

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

Bodies, breeding, robots & work

Another Loving, Autonomous Agents, Boundless Bodies and Lasting Labour. What a wonderful mix of potential futures are wrapped up in the 2019 Virtual Futures’ Near-Future Fiction series and I’m very excited that, in the same way as the 2018 series, I’ll be co-curating the events with other authors. 

We’re not searching for stories set on fanciful alien worlds,  post-apocalyptic landscapes in which steam-punk bandits with laser guns are fighting mutated zombies, or that feature technology so hypothetical it is almost unimaginable. Our aim is to promote stories that think critically about the sorts of technological developments that are just over horizon, and provide a unique perspective on contemporary concerns related to the perceived trajectory of scientific innovation. 

Those of you who have heard me answer the often asked question, “do you write dystopia or utopia,” will know I don’t believe in such a simple view of the world. You’ll have heard me respond with the shorthand statement that one person’s utopia is often another’s dystopia. As our call for stories says, “science fiction is often the victim of this binary between utopia and dystopia – fiction in which all of our problems are fixed or created by a specific technology or technologies. In reality, our relationship with our technology never follows these simple categories – it is frequently a messier affair. Stories that seek to criticize, predict, or complicate realistically will be more successful than those intended to shock with apocalyptic visions or please with plastic paradises.”

Whether you’re an established or emerging author we’re keen to receive your stories; the deadline for submissions is 2 December 2018 and you can download the full guidelines from the Virtual Futures’ website.

If you’re interested in attending the events to hear the inevitable variety of futures our chosen authors create, then you can read more about the themes and book your place via eventbrite; the last series sold out so get in early and book your place now.

I’m really looking forward to reading all the submissions, writing a story for each theme and reading them to a live Virtual Futures audience.

And don’t forget, the future is ours and it’s up for grabs…


photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt – FritsAhlefeldt.com global-trends-population-growth-culture-illustration-no-txt-by-frits-ahlefeldt via photopin (license)