Tag Archives: contemporary dystopian

Strange Brains, Alien Minds

It’s been a very busy few months, you just need to look at my events page to see what I mean. Guess what? Every time I’ve set aside some time to sit down and write a few words about my experiences something else crops up and the chance slip by.

Although it’s a bit late, here’s a very short reflection on my ongoing collaboration with King’s College London and the Human Brain Project. It’s called ‘Transforming Future Science through Science Fiction.’ Continue reading

Cautionary Tools

I was struck recently by a piece in Nature: the international journal of science on what science fiction has to offer a world where technology and power structures are rapidly changing.

As the headline says, “With technological change cranked up to warp speed and day-to-day life smacking of dystopia, where does science fiction go? Has mainstream fiction taken up the baton?”

It’s a fairly widely held view that sci-fi doesn’t predict the future very well, but it’s good at helping us think about on our own humanity in a changing world and some of the articles reflect on this.

We might be rubbish at predicting the future because technology doesn’t develop in a straight line, but many of the scientists I’ve spoken to will tell you about the sci-fi that inspired them. Although, I guess that’s influencing rather than predicting.

Something that I didn’t pick up in the articles that I think is important is whether we would be so sensitive to real-life ‘dystopia’ if we hadn’t had hugely popular sci-fi such as Nineteen Eighty Four, Brave New World, Blade Runner and more recently Black Mirror.

Have these works of science fiction made us more attuned to the attempts to manipulate us, or more wary of how technology might go wrong once you mix the messiness of humanity with the cracks in the code?

I think they have, I think they give us cautionary tools.

Whatever your view on science fiction these six articles by leading sci-fi writers are well worth a read.


photo credit: creative heroes The Supervision – Stop Mass Surveillance! via photopin (license)

The discussion…

After Paul Simon reviewed Fluence in the Morning Star we talked about how reviews could be more collaborative. In some ways I think Eating Robots and Other Stories lends itself to discussion more than a novel because the stories are short and in most cases deliberately written to provoke debate.

Paul starts his recent review of Eating Robots with “IN FEWER than 150 pages, Stephen Oram combines the sharp edginess of a JG Ballard with the vaulting inventiveness of a modernist Ovid.”  (full review

This post is dedicated to discussions about stories in Eating Robots; to start a new discussion post a comment and to join in a discussion already underway post a reply.

If you want some prompts, some provocations, to get started there’s some here.

Over to you…