Tag Archives: Virtual Futures

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)

Near-Future Fiction events

It’s a well-known saying among writers that you have to read to write. I imagine that’s the same for any craft – the more you see of other people’s work the better your own becomes. 

I’m in the fortunate position at the moment of being the lead-curator for a series of science fiction events themed around the near-future (links to them are on my future events page).  This means that not only do I get to read all the submitted stories and choose the best with my co-curator, I also get to hear the authors read their stories on the night.

And, it may sound like a cliché, but it really is a privilege.

Talking of which, it’s also incredibly pleasing that Vector, the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, has published an article on the thinking behind these Near-Future Fiction events.

Open for submissions…

I’m really pleased to be able to announce that I’ll be curating another series of near-future fictions for Virtual Futures and this time I’ll be co-curating with Jule Owen, Allen Ashley, Britte Schulte and Vaughan Stanger.

It’s going to be good…

So, authors and poets, we need your best imaginings of the future of infection and infestation, of personhood, of war and of brains.

Successful stories and poems will form a series of live reading events in London between February and May 2018 with an opportunity to be included in an anthology of Virtual Futures Near-Future Fictions.

I’ve been asked about the fees to enter and payment if chosen; it’s a no fee, no payment London based event and we do ask that you attend in person (naturally, there’s no charge for you plus one).

If you’re unfamiliar with the Virtual Futures events, take a look at some of the video footage here https://m.youtube.com/user/virtualfutures

We are open for submissions until 21 December 2017 on the following themes:

The (dis)ease of the i-Mortal: Born of earth or brought back from far away, biological or viral invasions or diseases can affect humans on any scale; from protecting or plaguing an individual to becoming an epidemic that affects us all. Take on a topic that Literature has meditated on from its inception; from Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, to Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, to Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, to Camus’s The Plague, to King’s The Stand.
Show us the good, the bad, but not the bland; we are relying on you to predict the future of infection and infestation in any of its various forms. What is the nature of the diseases, contagions or contaminations have in store?
Curated by Allen Ashley and Stephen Oram

E-Me’s: The digital world is a personality playground that offers us an unprecedented ability to curate and create a public persona — but what does this ability mean for the future of personhood?
As the digital world expands around us and the Internet of Things combines the physical and virtual do we have a moral obligation to represent ourselves with truth and integrity in the digital realm, or should we view it as an opportunity to explore new and radical ontologies?
Curated by Britte Schulte and Stephen Oram

Tomorrow’s Battles: War has, so far, been inevitable throughout human history – but what will the future of conflict or cooperation look like? Will the discoveries of the future lead us to a world without violent disagreement, or just result in us killing one another in more creative ways? Paint us your future of what kind of conflict – or lack of – will emerge from the caldron of tomorrow’s technologies: what utopia or dystopia will we be exposed to?
Curated by Jule Owen and Stephen Oram

Post-Brain: As technology gets smarter and smarter, the human brain is forced to reflect on itself in the mirror of the future and question what value it will have in a world in which wet tech, cerebral hacking and commodified consciousness could reign. A world not of enhancement or augmentation, but replacement. We implore you to enquire what the future of our most precious organ will be, while you still have one.
Curated by Vaughan Stanger and Stephen Oram

The deadline for submissions is 21 December 2017 and successful authors and poets will be notified in January 2018.

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