Category Archives: in the press

Stop the Dystopia, I Want To Get On

Whether to write dystopian or utopian stories is an ongoing choice for science fiction writers and something I’m often questioned about. I’ve been pondering this for a while and my thoughts to date are featured in this month’s Focus, the British Science Fiction Association’s magazine for writers.

As the editor says, “Stephen discusses the implications for writers and also explores whether it’s a binary choice between the two.”

PS this was written before the current crisis, but it’s probably even more pertinent now.


photo credit: tsbl2000 Evening Class via photopin (license)

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 I am so out-of-date even the kettle refuses to connect with me.’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)

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.