Category Archives: In the press

Signposts to a post-pandemic future.

In an article just published in the British Science Fiction Association’s magazine Focus, I write about how near-future science fiction might help us see and take a different fork in the road to our future.

However, given that the trick with near-future fiction is to extrapolate from the present, the particular difficulty at the moment is knowing which elements of the changes we are undergoing will stick.

Here’s an excerpt that you may have views on: “… the world feels less sure, more transient to use a term from Future Shock, and it’s probable that there will be an increase in the number of people that will be able to accept science fiction as plausible. Unless they are more sceptical because they associate science fiction with dystopia and they feel they know what a true one of those looks and feels like.”

Do you feel more or less inclined to see near-future fiction as a way of thinking about the future?

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)