Following on from my post about the Unicorn, here’s another piece of micro-fiction written for a specific purpose, the 7 banned words theme at New Flash Fiction. I liked the concept of what they were doing – short pieces that contained words recently banned from US government press statements (note: I can’t find the original submission form, but that’s how I remember it).
This was my offering – I’ll let you guess which are the banned words.
‘A transgender fetus? That’s insane. Impossible. That’s ridiculous.’
‘It’s a science-based study sir. It shows we can determine in the womb if Mother Nature has got it wrong.’
‘So, we’re all vulnerable now, are we? Vulnerable to the crazies before we’re even born.’
It’s an entitlement sir and it could save a lot of money; correcting in the womb would be much cheaper.’
‘Nobody has an entitlement to be “corrected” so that’s a stupid argument.’
‘Imagine how all those so-called evidence-based studies would look though. It’d improve the diversity stats without all the legal fuss and bother we have to put up with now.’
‘I won’t allow it. No. Simple. Got it? No.’
‘But, you could have been a woman. Imagine having the sort of body you crave so much. As your own.’
‘Out. Get out.’
The president sat in his office alone, sad and wishing for a different life.
Now here’s a thing. A piece of wearable tech that automates flirting.
If it spots someone looking at you via its cameras it diverts its ‘eyes’ towards them and vibrates. As you turn it lets you know when you’re looking at the right person and if you’re both interested it turns its tentacles towards them.
Doesn’t it sound great?
But… I couldn’t help feeling that it looks so unusual its bound to attract attention and mistake a curious stare for sexual attraction. Or even better, that two wearers are tricked into a cycle of implied mutual attraction by mistake.
The more I thought about this the more I thought that maybe mutual mistakes aren’t such a bad thing. After all, who can tell what makes people attracted to one another and a little bit of feeling fancied always helps ease the flirting…
Meet Ripple: A tentacle-shaped wearable device for flirting
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)